Charles becomes King: All the ways he has already done things differently

·3-min read
Charles has paved his own way within the royal family (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
Charles has paved his own way within the royal family (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

At the age of 73 and after spending 70 years as heir to the throne, Charles has become King.

As a senior member of the royal family and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, the former Prince of Wales has been compelled to devote his life to service and uphold many long-standing traditions.

Following the death of the Queen, Charles III automatically succeeded the throne, but will not be formally proclaimed King until an Accession Council is held at St James’s Palace in London on Saturday.

While he might be following in the footsteps of his mother, if his public life thus far is anything to go by, Charles could take steps to modernise the monarchy even more after he is crowned.

Commitment to the environment

Far ahead of the mainstream, Charles has campaigned for environmental awareness since the 1980s and in 2021 unveiled a hugely ambitious project. The Nature Capital fund seeks to raise £7.5 billion from businesses to invest in sustainable initiatives around the world.

A keen gardener, he became interested in organic farming after acquiring Highgrove Estate, later co-authoring a book on the topic and founding organic food brand Duchy Originals, sales of which go to the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

Marrying a second time

The Prince of Wales with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, on their wedding day (Bob Collier/PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, on their wedding day (Bob Collier/PA) (PA Archive)

Usually, the royal family does everything it can to keep romantic scandals under wraps, but in 1994, Charles admitted in  a television interview that he had been unfaithful to Diana, Princess of Wales, whom he married in 1981. He said that the marriage had already “irretrievably broken down” by the time the affair began.

Charles and Diana divorced in 1996, a year before Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles rekindled their relationship and were married at Windsor Castle in 2005, with Camilla becoming the Duchess of Cornwall.

On her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022, the Queen expressed her “sincere wish” that Camilla would become Queen Consort when Charles became King – and that wish has now been granted, as is shown on the official royal website.

Outspoken about architecture

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall (Geoff Caddick/PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall (Geoff Caddick/PA) (PA Archive)

While he may want to modernise the royal family, it’s safe to say Charles is not a fan of modern architecture, once famously describing a proposed extension to London’s National Gallery as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend”.

Preaching his building preservation gospel overseas, he helped set up the National Trust for Canada, which is committed to protecting historic urban areas, and is patron of an organisation working on the conservation of Orthodox monasteries in Romania, where he owns a house.

Sharing his love of gardening

Nowadays, gardening is a very trendy hobby, but Charles was way ahead of the curve. He was mocked by the press for admitting in an interview in 1986: “I just come and talk to the plants, really – very important to talk to them. They respond.”

It seems Charles could see the funny side, though. Asked in 2013 on the BBC’s Countryfile whether he still conversed with his greenery, he said: “No, now I instruct them instead. You can’t make a joke, can you really, without people taking you seriously – it always comes back to haunt you!”