12 Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Charles
Learn some little-known secrets about the heir to the British throne.
He was bullied in school
Even royalty isn’t immune to the taunting of schoolchildren. Prince Charles went to boarding school at Gordonstoun in Scotland, and he didn’t have the best experience. His classmates picked on him, which would drive him to isolation. When a classmate would talk to him, bullies would start making slurping sounds to imply his peers were “sucking up,” according to Robert Jobson in Charles at Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams. The teenager kept a stiff upper lip in school, but he didn’t hide his pain from his family. “The people in my dormitory are foul,” he wrote in a 1963 letter. “Goodness, they are horrid. I don’t know how anybody could be so foul.” Find out which 10 rumors about the royal family are totally false.
He’s a huge fan of leftovers
Piling leftovers into Tupperware seems undeniably un-royal, but Prince Charles’ disdain for food waste trumps any desire for fresher grub. “If we made roasted lamb and there were leftovers, we’d probably go and make Shepherd’s pie the next night,” former royal chef Carolyn Robb told a biographer. “The prince was very economical and very much believed that nothing should go to waste. If there were leftovers, they’d be used one way or another. If not for him, then rehashed and used for a meal the following day.” Prince Charles would even pack up leftovers from tea time and reuse them day after day until they were gone, his former private secretary Clive Alderton added. You won’t believe these other 15 surprisingly frugal habits of the British royal family.
He’s a proponent of organic eating
For nearly 30 years, Prince Charles has managed the Duchy Home Farm, where he raises cattle, pigs, and sheep using organic farming methods. He’s been vocal about the need for a shift in agriculture, announcing during a Soil Association event that “the very future of humanity may depend to a very large extent on a mainstream transition to more sustainable farming practices, based of course on organic principles.” And the Prince of Wales practices what he preaches. He’ll always bring a pile of organic food to the royal family’s Christmas celebrations, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady. These are the eating habits of the rest of the royal family.
He’s a workaholic
Being a prince isn’t all about tea time and strolls through sprawling estates. Prince Charles works seven days a week, generally starting after breakfast and often working past midnight, according to BBC documentary Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70. “He does need to slow down,” Prince Harry said of his father in the documentary. “This is a man who has dinner ridiculously late at night, and then goes to his desk later that night and will fall asleep on his notes to the point where he’ll wake up with a piece of paper stuck to his face.” Wife Camilla Parker Bowles blames his sometimes overzealous work ethic on the fact that “he would like to change the world.” Confused about the royal family tree? Here it is in one easy chart.
He supports hundreds of good causes
It’s no surprise that Prince Charles keeps such long hours, given that he’d patron or president of more than 400 organizations. He supports everything from horticulture and hospices to rugby clubs and orchestras.
He has written a children’s book
Prince Charles wrote the 1980 instant-classic The Old Man of Lochnagar based on a story about a Scottish man that he told his younger brothers, Andrew and Edward, when they were little. The picture book has since been adapted into an animated film, a musical, and a ballet, with proceeds benefitting Charles’ charity for at-risk kids and young adults, The Prince’s Trust. Don’t miss these look-alike photos between Prince Charles and his son, Prince William.
He’d fallen for Camilla before meeting Diana
When Prince Charles was 23, one of his friends from university introduced him to Camilla Shand, hoping the two would hit it off, according to Charles at Seventy. The two became fast friends, and Charles fell hard for Camilla. Unfortunately for the prince, his love interest was still in love with her own former flame, Andrew Parker Bowles. When Parker Bowles’ Army duties sent him to Germany, Charles seemed to have a chance with the girl of his dreams—that is, until Charles himself left for an eight-month Navy duty in 1973. By the time he came back, he’d missed his chance. Camilla was engaged to Parker Bowles. Don’t miss these other 15 things you never knew about Duchess Camilla.
He didn’t really want to marry Diana
How could the fairytale romance between Prince Charles and Princess Diana go so wrong? Blame the affairs, blame the terror of the paparazzi—or just accept that their romance wasn’t what it seemed. The two had only met a dozen times before they married, and even after they were engaged, Prince Charles started regretting the proposal. He told his friends at the time that he wanted to get out of the wedding because he hadn’t really gotten to know his fiancé, according to Charles at Seventy. So why get married, if not for true love? “Things were very different in those days,” the Prince of Wales later told close friends. “The power and influence of the media driving matters towards an engagement were unstoppable.” Check out these 15 little-known facts about past royal weddings.
He has performed in Shakespeare plays
Prince Charles is a supporter of the arts, especially when it comes to classic Shakespeare works. He even made an appearance in a skit for BBC’s Shakespeare Live in 2016, and in a 1991 speech he referred to the Bard as “the world’s greatest playwright—perhaps the world’s greatest poet.” His soft spot for Shakespeare might go back to his teenage years when he stole the show playing Exeter in his school’s play of Henry V and later landed the lead part in Macbeth.
Some fear his strong opinions could get him into hot water
Part of the royal family’s involve supporting public causes, but for the monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), it’s unconstitutional to express any political opinions. Prince Charles has a history of veering into the realm of politics—he condemned a number of government-backed London building projects in the 1980s, and these days he passionately discusses climate change—which some fear doesn’t bode well for the next in line for the crown. But in a recent BBC documentary, he brushed aside fears that he wouldn’t be able to separate his political ideals as prince from his need for neutrality as king. “I’m not that stupid,” he explained. Find out more about what will happen when Prince Charles eventually becomes king.
He has open-minded views on religion
Ever since Henry VIII split with the Catholic church in 1530, English and British monarchs have been deemed “Defender of the Faith” during their coronations—a promise to uphold the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth II is a devout Anglican, but her son Prince Charles has hinted that he might veer away from a single-religion view. He said in a 1994 interview that he’d prefer to be “Defender of Faith” over “Defender of the Faith.” He’s later said he’ll stick to the traditional wording when he’s crowned, but that won’t stop him from promoting inter-faith dialogue, according to Charles at Seventy. He’s studied the Koran and Judaism in depth, attended Catholic Masses, and made a point of visiting Christian, Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu communities during official visits. “The future surely lies in rediscovering the universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions,” he has said. Learn the times the royal family has been brutally honest with the media.
He can laugh at himself
Prince Charles once asked some staff what they thought of several busts of him that had been given to him as gifts over the years, according to Robert Jobson’s Charles at Seventy. When the staff responded “Very good likenesses, sir,” Prince Charles responded with a humorous touch of self-deprecation: “Yes, but they always get one thing right: my bloody ears.” You won’t want to miss these other 50 things you never knew about the British royal family.