12 Things You Didn’t Know About King Charles III
Turns out, there are some interesting details about England's new king you may not know
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King Charles III reigns
King Charles III now sits on the British throne, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, 2022, at age 96. Now that Charles is king, some royal family titles have changed (for instance, Camilla Parker Bowles is now Queen Consort, and Prince William is now Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge), and the former Prince of Wales’s responsibilities have changed too—he is the Head of State now, after all.
With this much change in the British monarchy, it’s only natural for people to be curious about the new king. We’ve seen key moments of his public life over the years, but even the most loyal royal followers may not know these details about King Charles.
He was bullied in school
Even royalty isn’t immune to the taunting of schoolchildren. King 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.” Did you know this is what Princess Diana first thought of King Charles?
He’s a huge fan of leftovers
Piling leftovers into Tupperware seems undeniably un-royal, but King Charles’s 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.”
King 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.
He’s a proponent of organic eating
For more than 30 years, King Charles managed the Duchy Home Farm, where he raised 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.”
He’s a workaholic
When he was Prince of Wales, Charles worked seven days a week, generally starting after breakfast and often working past midnight, according to the 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.”
He’s supported hundreds of good causes
Now that Charles is king, he’ll likely have to step back from his charitable duties to focus on the throne. As Prince of Wales, he was patron or president of more than 400 organizations. He supported everything from horticulture and hospices to rugby clubs and orchestras. Here’s how much each person in the royal family is worth, by the way.
He wrote a children’s book
King 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 The Prince’s Trust, Charles’s charity for at-risk kids and young adults.
He’d fallen for Camilla before meeting Diana
When 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 king, his love interest was still in love with her own former flame, Andrew Parker Bowles.
When Parker Bowles’s 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.
He didn’t really want to marry Diana
How could the fairytale romance between King 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, 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,” Charles later told close friends. “The power and influence of the media driving matters towards an engagement were unstoppable.”
He has performed in Shakespeare plays
King 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 feared his strong opinions could get him into hot water
Being part of the royal family involves supporting public causes, but it’s unconstitutional for the monarch to express any political opinions. Before becoming king, Charles had a history of veering into the realm of politics—he condemned a number of government-backed London building projects in the 1980s and has passionately discussed climate change—which some feared wouldn’t bode well for him when he was heir to the throne. But in a BBC documentary, he brushed aside fears that he wouldn’t be able to separate his political ideals as then-prince from his need for neutrality as king. “I’m not that stupid,” he explained.
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 was a devout Anglican, but King 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 later said he’ll stick to the traditional wording when he’s crowned, but that won’t stop him from promoting interfaith 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.
He can laugh at himself
King 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.”
- Charles at Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams by Robert Jobson
- Express: “Royal news: The doggie-bag royal – Prince Charles’ dinner table obsession might SHOCK YOU”
- Daily Mail: “Prince Charles says the ‘very future of humanity’ may depend on organic farming as he warns ‘fertilizers and pesticides mean the world has only sixty harvests left’”
- People: “Royal Christmas: Diana’s Former Chef Remembers”
- Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70
- Prince of Wales website: “The Prince of Wales’s Patronages”
- Forbes: “King Charles III’s First Public Speech Sets Tone and Direction for Monarchy”