Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor — or King Charles III as he is now — is one of our own, having been born in Buckingham Palace in 1948.
No surprise his name adorns a fair few pubs across town, and even a movie house — although while the Prince Charles Cinema just off Leicester Square has welcomed film royalty (it’s said to be Quentin Tarantino’s favourite spot), it doesn’t appear to have much to do with the King himself.
Still, plenty of other spots boast their ties to our monarch, and from upscale perfumers to a Punjabi spot in Southall, these are the London locations that have shaped King Charles III and inform the new Carolean age – and give a taste of the royal lifestyle.
While the King is most at home at Highgrove, the Georgian house and Gloucestershire estate he has owned since 1980, Buckingham Place became his official residence upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II. However, while the King will perform official duties at the palace, a decade-long, £369m renovation project to make the palace fit for the 21st century means that Charles and Camilla are unlikely to move in any time soon — this despite the fact that the place has every mod-con imaginable, from a post office and cinema to a swimming pool and doctor’s surgery, as well as the largest private garden in London. It even has its own cash machine — installed by Coutts, no less.
Nevertheless, it’s thought that the couple will remain at Clarence House in St James’s, which served as the official residence of Prince Charles from 2003 until he succeeded to the throne. Clarence House is a comparatively modest five-bedroom mansion, built to the designs of Regency architect John Nash, restored after wartime bombing in the 1940s and renovated to the tune of £4.5m when Prince Charles moved in in 2003.
Charles, however, was no stranger to Clarence House. He lived there as a child with Prince Phillip and Princess Elizabeth before she became Queen while his beloved grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, lived at Clarence House from 1953 until her death in 2002. The house is usually open to the public in August and contains pieces from Charles’s art collection as well as many family photos.
The King’s other London homes have included Kensington Palace, where he lived with Princess Diana, and York House in St James’ Palace, where he moved when his first marriage ended.
Regal nights out
Being the heir to the throne for 73 years has naturally curtailed the King’s freedom to make the most of London nightlife. Charles was set to have his stag night at Julie’s, the Holland Park restaurant which had played host to the stag of Princess Anne’s first husband Captain Mark Phillips eight years earlier. Charles’s plans were scuppered when the press found out and the shindig was re-located to the rather more exclusive White’s, the oldest gentlemen’s club in London and where both the King and Prince William are members. Annabel’s, the private member’s club in Berkeley Square, was another of the King’s favourites during his party-prince days of the Seventies and Eighties.
These days the King sensibly prefers not to stray too far from home when in London. Charles chose The Ritz hotel, moments from Clarence House, as the venue to go public with his romance to Camilla in 1999 when she was attending the 50th birthday party of her sister Annabel Elliot, the interior designer. The future King was last spotted at the hotel in 2020, bumping elbows with a group of guests celebrating a 50th birthday while he paid tribute to the resilience shown by the hospitality industry during the pandemic. The King’s taste, however, isn’t all so upmarket. His favourite London restaurant is said to be Brilliant, the Southall Punjabi where he attended a Diwali celebration with Camilla in 2007.
Food and drink fit for a King
Many rumours surround Prince Charles’ eating habits, not least that he selects his boiled egg for breakfast from a line-up of seven presented. (Sadly not true, according to Charles’ former chef Darren McGrady, who says that the King has a breakfast of fruit, seeds and tea before skipping lunch.)
What is in no doubt is that the King has been an active supporter of organic food production since the 1980s and, while apple juice from Highgrove and turkey from Sandringham is served to guests at Buckingham Palace, a trip to your local branch of Waitrose is probably a more accessible way to taste the fruits of his labours.
Charles founded Duchy Organics in 1990 with the launch of an Oaten Biscuit — not “oat”, note — and the company went into partnership with Britain’s poshest supermarket in 2010. Over the intervening 12 years, Waitrose Duchy Organic, as the range is now called, has raised over £30m for The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.
It’s not all so worthy, though. The royal cellars hold a wine collection estimated at £2million. The clerk of the royal cellars is Simon Berry, the former chairman of Berry Bros & Rudd, the UK’s oldest wine merchants, which happens to be over the road from St James’ Palace. What to choose? Given that Camilla is president of Wines of Great Britain, a bottle of Hambledon English sparkling wine (£25.95) would be a good shout.
Bollinger supplied the wine for Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana Spencer; the Bollinger Bar in the Burlington Arcade is just the place to explore the Champagne house’s cuvées and raise a glass of bubbly to toast the King and Queen Consort. Prefer something stronger? Laphroaig, Charles’ favourite Islay distillery, has been bottling whisky for the King since the Nineties; Hedonism Wines in Mayfair has a bottle of Laphroaig Highgrove 1991 for £675.
But while it might be assumed that a hip flask of Highgrove whisky would be what the King packs when he’s on the go, Charles apparently never travels without the ingredients for a Martini, transported in a special case by his protection officer to prevent the drink being spiked. The King favours a wet Martini of 50:50 gin and vermouth; organic Juniper Green holds a royal warrant, though a bottle of Buckingham Palace Gin, launched by his mother in 2020 and made with botanicals grown in the gardens of Buck House, might be rather easier for Charles to get hold of.
Like his mother, King Charles has emerged as a surprising style icon by never following trends — either that, or he is proof of the old adage that if you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion eventually. As Charles told London Men’s Fashion Week at St James’s Palace in 2012: “I have lurched from being the best-dressed man to being the worst-dressed man. Meanwhile I have gone on, like a stopped clock, and my time comes around every 25 years.”
The King favours double-breasted suits come from Savile Row (Gieves & Hawkes and Ede & Ravenscroft are favourites), shoes from Jermyn Street (Tricker’s, Crockett & Jones, John Lobb) — and if you believe the rumours, tied with laces steamed by his valet. His shirts are also from Jermyn Street, being handmade by Turnbull & Asser, while cashmere is woven by Johnstons of Elgin (handy for Balmoral, but on Bond Street too).
None of this comes cheap, of course, but given that Charles has been wearing the same Anderson & Sheppard overcoat since 1986, they have proven to be investment pieces.
To ensure he smells as good as he looks, the King might opt for a spray of Highgrove Bouquet (£155) from Penhaligon’s. The royal warrant holder’s new fragrance is inspired by summers in the gardens of Highgrove House, though the King’s signature fragrance is actually believed to be Creed’s Green Irish Tweed (from £185).
The great outdoors
King Charles has transformed the once-overgrown gardens at Highgrove into an organic showcase of rare trees and flowers that attract 30,000 visitors a year (as well as the birds and wildlife that have made it their home). The gardens at Buckingham Palace are open to the public in summer but, all year, the green-fingered King is the patron of the Garden Museum in Lambeth, the world’s first museum dedicated to garden history which has a rather lovely café to boot.
The museum was opened in 1977; Chelsea Physic Garden, of which the King is also a patron, is rather older, having been founded in 1673. Today its purpose is to promote the value of plants to humankind and, if nothing else, a meander along its gravelled paths or a seat on a shady bench should convince anyone of Charles’s belief in the importance of spending time in nature.
Famously the King is just as happy looking at landscapes as he is transforming them and is rumoured to take his own paintings of the Scottish Highlands to decorate his room when he travels. Winsor & Newton, sold in Cass Art’s six London shops, supplies him with his artist’s materials should you wish to try your hand at a watercolour.
Shooting, one of the King’s other favoured outdoor pursuits, is harder to attempt outdoors in London, but if a country-house weekend invitation comes your way, Holland and Holland and James Purdey both have warrants to supply Charles with guns. And while his polo-playing days may be long behind him, Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park was the site of some of Charles’ greatest triumphs on horseback, a fact commemorated by the annual Duke of Cornwall Trophy held in August. Who knows? You might just meet your very own prince.