Prince Charles has been the subject of a lot of gossip. And even though we’ll probably never know the truth behind all the rumors, one thing’s for certain. In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's passing, Charles will be coronated as the new king of England. It’s bound to be a period of great change and upheaval for Charles, his country, and, of course, his family. But where does that leave Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton?
Destined to be king
Well, for starters, William is now heir to the throne — a position with which Charles is all too familiar. You see, the Prince of Wales has been destined to be king ever since he entered the world in 1948. He’s the first-born of the late Queen and Prince Philip, which set him up nicely for the top job.
A smart bloke
And at least Charles is no intellectual slouch, which bodes well for his reign. He earned a degree at the prestigious University of Cambridge — although his royal connections may have helped him get that place, to begin with. On top of that, Charles also attended the U.K.’s Royal Air Force College and Royal Naval College. That could mean he’ll be an effective commander-in-chief.
Long before William was even in the picture, Charles completed a tour of duty as part of the Royal Navy. And since then, he’s been heavily involved in charity work — most notably through The Prince’s Trust. The organization helps children and adults who are having a difficult time at school or who are unemployed. All good stuff, even if the Oprah interview has turned public opinion against Charles...
Charles' controversial romantic life
But none of those good deeds have drawn as much press attention as Charles’ private life. Royal fans will know about the long-storied past with Camilla Parker Bowles — one that apparently continued even during his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer. And although Charles and Camilla are married now, they couldn’t have wed when they were younger. For starters, the heir’s nearest and dearest allegedly deemed Camilla to be an unsuitable bride.
Saying "I do"
So, the prince ultimately tied the knot with Diana in 1981. And even though the couple’s marriage was tempestuous, to say the least, they still appeared to be proud parents. Less than one year after the grand ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Diana gave birth to her first child with Charles: William. He was followed on September 15, 1984, by Harry.
Giving them a normal childhood
And as William and Harry grew and developed, Diana worked hard to ensure that her children had relatively normal lives — as well as an awareness of their privileges. She dropped them off at school whenever she could, for instance, and even took them to theme parks. But there were some other commitments the boys couldn’t get out of. The princess made sure that William and Harry went with her to a number of royal engagements — including one to a homeless shelter.
A broken relationship
Before long, though, cracks began to appear in Diana and Charles’ relationship. It was all but inevitable, then, that the pair would split. And after the two duly parted ways in 1992, the scandalous revelations began. Yep, Harry may have learned from Charles himself that it’s okay to wash dirty laundry in public. Charles admitted, for instance, that when his marriage had irretrievably broken down, he’d had an affair with Camilla.
Diana allegedly had affairs, too, with one of the most talked-about having apparently been with British Army officer James Hewitt. And to this day, rumors remain that Hewitt — rather than Charles — is the real father of Harry. Is it really true? Well, probably not, as Harry was already a baby when Diana started seeing Hewitt.
The Paris tragedy
Then, in 1997, an immense tragedy robbed Harry and William of their mom. On August 31 of that year, Diana died in a car accident in Paris at just 36 years old. Charles later traveled to France to transport her body back to the U.K., even though he and Diana had divorced a year before.
And Charles had to weather his own storm as the nation prepared for Diana’s funeral. In reaction to the loss, there had been a public outpouring of grief unlike any previously seen in modern-day Britain. Ultimately, Charles had to bear the brunt of some of that backlash. Had he not divorced Diana, it was said, she may not have been in Paris in the first place.
Charles and Camilla
Charles put his head down, though, and didn’t appear in public with another woman for a further two years after that. Then, in 1999, Charles and Camilla appeared together for a birthday bash at London’s Ritz hotel. And in February 2005 they confirmed their engagement before marrying in a civil ceremony that April. Camilla was later given the title of the Duchess of Cornwall.
A man with many passions
Of course, Charles is more than just his love life. He’s carried out duties on behalf of the royal family and the Commonwealth, for one. He’s also helped create charities that focus on the environment, youth and education. And as well as being a dedicated environmentalist, Charles is interested in architecture, too.
But we wouldn’t even be talking about Charles becoming king if there hadn’t been a huge scandal many decades ago. The guilty party? Step forward Edward VIII, who took the throne in 1936 after the death of his father King George V. It turned out, you see, that he was in love with an American divorcée named Wallis Simpson.
"Not a suitable wife"
But both the Church of England and the U.K. government didn’t approve of the union between the king and his proposed bride. After all, a divorcée was simply not a suitable wife. So, in an incredible move, Edward decided to vacate the throne. In fact, he announced that he would be abdicating after less than 12 months as sovereign.
Edward declared at the time, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.” The decision meant that his younger brother took the throne in his place, becoming King George VI. As for Edward? Well, he went on to marry Simpson the following year.
Queen Elizabeth II's statement
And the specter of Edward VIII still hangs over the royal family. To this day, in fact, they approach the concept of divorce far more cautiously than the average person probably would. When the already divorced Charles married the already divorced Camilla in 2005, Queen Elizabeth II did not attend the religious part of the ceremony.
There is, of course, the possibility that the late Queen had actually wanted to be there, given that her oldest child was getting remarried. But rumor had it that she didn’t want to be seen putting her son over the Church of England’s beliefs. And while the church no longer strictly forbids divorce or remarriage after divorce — as it once used to — it does strongly counsel against such things.
The Church comes first
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph in 2005, an anonymous “friend of the Queen” claimed that the monarch herself had said, “I am not able to go. I do not feel that my position permits it.” This unknown person went on, “The Queen feels she has to put her role with the Church before her role as a mother.” Yep, duty always has to come first.
Harry and Meghan
The same issue came up when Harry prepared to tie the knot with Meghan Markle in 2018. Meghan was also a divorcée, as she had once been married to a film producer named Trevor Engelson. And before Meghan’s wedding to Harry, there were naturally questions about whether or not the Queen would attend the ceremony. Of course, she eventually did.
Royal butler Grant Harrold told the Daily Express at around the time of Harry and Meghan’s big day, “Prince Charles’ wedding was 13 years ago, [and] times have changed. It could be a change of heart… You have the unfortunate Edward and Wallace Simpson episode, and 70 years later nobody blinks an eyelid.” Basically, a lot of time has passed since King George VI took the throne, and the royals — not to mention the world at large — adapted.
A youthful queen
In case you don’t know, King George VI was actually Queen Elizabeth II’s father. When George took the throne, the future queen was ten years old, while her younger sister, Margaret, was aged six. That made Elizabeth the heir apparent. And she was still young when, in 1952, she became queen at only 25.
This development seemingly came as a surprise to the young Elizabeth. Yes, although her father’s health had been declining for a while, it was clear that the princess had not been expecting him to die. At the time of his passing, you see, she was in Kenya with her husband, the late Prince Philip. The couple had actually spent the night at the Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park.
Admired her father
According to Time, Elizabeth had been “in high spirits over her ‘tremendous experience’ and vowed to come again soon with her father.” She had apparently also claimed that her dad would “love it” there. And, rather unfortunately, a BBC reporter explained that, just that morning, Elizabeth had been “talking about her father and proudly describing how bravely he’d stood up to his illness.”
The heir to the throne
In any case, though, Elizabeth became queen — and a young Charles took her place as the heir to the throne. He was just three years of age at that time. And while Elizabeth since became the longest-reigning monarch in British history, Charles, in turn, became the longest-serving heir.
In fact, when Charles turned 70 in November 2018, it was noted that he is also the oldest heir apparent. Another crazy fact? As King, he will also be the oldest monarch crowned in the history of the British royal family. This distinction was previously held by William IV, who was nearly 65 years old when he assumed the role in 1830.
William vs. Charles
It’s for this reason that some say Charles could choose to abdicate the throne in favor of his son William. And this, it seems, could be a popular decision — at least as far as some of the British public is concerned. A StatistaCharts survey for The Week found that almost 50 percent of Britons would prefer to see William become king in Charles’ place. That number may have increased after the Oprah interview, too.
Diana was also said to have had mixed feelings about Charles becoming monarch. This probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering their divorce was far from amicable. In 1995 the princess even spoke out about the subject on the BBC show Panorama. There, journalist Martin Bashir asked her, “Do you think the Prince of Wales will ever be king?”
Diana replied, “I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.” But she went on, “There was always conflict on that subject with [Charles] when we discussed it, and I understood that conflict. Because it’s a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it’s an equally more demanding role being king.”
A suffocating title
More tellingly, Diana added, “Being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being king would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him — and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”
Taking over duties
But as far as we know? Charles has every intention of taking over the throne from his mother. The Queen appeared to be preparing Charles to become monarch by handing over some of her responsibilities to him. In recent years, for instance, he has placed a wreath for Remembrance Day in her stead.
The inevitable future
So, what will actually happen now that the Queen has passed away? Well, there’s a very detailed plan in place. It’s reportedly known as Operation London Bridge, and so the news of the Queen’s passing will have spread amongst civil servants with the phrase “London Bridge is down.”
Before the Queen’s funeral, there will likely be a period of time for the public to mourn her. The burial will take place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where her parents were both laid to rest. The days of the funeral and the next coronation will reportedly be made into public holidays, too.
Choosing a name
Charles has now instantly become King. But he must decide upon any of his given names — which include Arthur, Philip, and George. Otherwise, he will be known as King Charles III. As for how the world will now address Camilla, there's a lot of speculation.
Camilla’s title has long been a matter of some debate. In 2017 Charles’ biographer Sally Bedell Smith spoke to People about the process of coming up with a suitable honor for Camilla, saying, “It was obviously fudged when [Charles and Camilla] got married. Diana was so uppermost in many people’s minds. So, they concocted the notion of a Princess Consort, which is made up.”
But Bedell Smith went on, “[The royal family] obviously have worked very hard to have [Camilla] accepted, and she has been accepted. If she were anything less than Queen Consort, it would imply inferiority on her part... Most of the constitutional experts agree that by common law and tradition, [Camilla] is entitled to be queen.”
Charles' list of titles
But what will all this mean for William? Well, when George VI died and Elizabeth II became Queen, Charles was made the Duke of Cornwall. He has, however, accumulated several other titles throughout his life. These include Duke of Rothesay, Lord of the Isles, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, and Great Stewart of Scotland.
Not an automatic honor
And while Charles received most of his titles when his mother was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, this is not the case for all of them. Yes, even though there have been Princes of Wales since 1301, that honor is not automatically given to the heirs of the king or queen.
Six years later
The title is, as a matter of fact, reserved for male heirs to the throne. That meant there was no Prince of Wales when George VI was king, as he had only had daughters. Then, six years after Elizabeth II became queen, she finally gave Charles the nod.
Pounds and pounds
As part of his position as the Duke of Cornwall, Charles received a salary from the Duchy of Cornwall. This territory was created by Edward III in the 14th century and includes 131,000 acres of land and properties. Not bad! And on top of everything else, there is also an investment portfolio.
Funding Charles' life
The Duke of Cornwall — in this case, Charles — received the money from the duchy in order to finance various public and private enterprises. That could include his charity initiatives, too. The fund can also help out close family members — Charles’ children and grandchildren, say.
Duchy of Lancaster
There’s also a Duchy of Lancaster, also made up of land and properties, that belonged to Queen Elizabeth II. And if that wasn’t enough, she also received funds from the British government’s Sovereign Grant! It’ll come as no surprise to hear, then, that the royal family is at a time of great change.