Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prince Charles

Prince Charles is the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and the heir apparent to the British throne. Charles has been under public scrutiny his entire life, much of it due to his relationships with women. He admitted to adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles during his marriage to Princess Diana, and eventually married her. He and Diana had two sons, Prince William and Prince Henry.

Early Life
Prince of Wales, philanthropist. Born on November 14, 1948, in London, England. Prince Charles, the son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, ascended the royal hierarchy at an early age. His mother became queen when he was only three after the death of his grandfather King George VI. As her oldest child, Charles became the heir apparent to the British throne and received the title of Duke of Cornwall.

In 1956, Charles went to the Hill House School in West London before heading off to boarding school at the Cheam School the following year. In addition to his school work, he had increased responsibilities as he was made the Prince of Wales at the age of nine. Beginning in 1962, Charles changed schools again to go to Gordonstoun in Scotland. He also studied in Australia during his time there.

A strong student, Charles studied archaeology, anthropology, and history at Trinity College, part of the University of Cambridge from 1967 to 1970. In addition to his studies, he was active in campus life, involving himself in several activities, such as playing on the polo team. After receiving his degree in 1970, Charles began a military career.

Military Service
After six months of aviation training with the Royal Air Force, Charles joined the Royal Navy in 1971. He served as a helicopter pilot and even commanded a ship before leaving the military in 1976. That same year, Charles established The Prince's Trust, a charitable organization dedicated to helping improve the lives of Britain's disadvantaged youth.

Marriage to Diana
As a public figure, Charles came off to many as intelligent, aloof, and a bit awkward. He was used to having every move he made scrutinized by the press, but even he could not have been imagined what a sensation his relationship with Lady Diana Spencer would cause. The two had known each other when they were young but were reintroduced in the late 1970s. Despite a 13-year age difference as well as divergent interests, the couple became engaged in February 1981. The public took a strong liking to his shy, former kindergarten teacher fiancée; they found her more accessible than the reserved prince. They were married on July 29, 1981, in a lavish ceremony that was broadcast around the world and watched millions of people.

Divorce and Tragedy
Charles and Diana had two children together. Their first son, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, was born on June 21, 1982, and their second son, Prince Henry "Harry" Charles Albert David, was born on September 15, 1984. Unfortunately, their common love for their children was not enough to hold the fairy tale marriage together. The marriage became strained over the years with royal responsibilities, media pressures, and infidelities. Charles reportedly re-ignited a relationship with his former flame, Camilla Parker Bowles, while married to Diana. The couple officially separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997. Despite their differences, Charles traveled with her sisters to France to accompany her body back to England. During her funeral procession, he walked with their sons - William, 15, and Harry, 12 - and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer. Charles took his role as father to his grieving sons seriously, asking the media to leave his children alone and to let them live as normal a life as possible.

Marriage to Camilla
After years of quietly maintaining their relationship, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9, 2005. She then became the Duchess of Cornwall and now often accompanies her husband on many of his official visits. Besides his royal duties, Charles has been become a leading philanthropist. In addition to the Prince's Trust, he has founded several other charitable organizations and supports efforts to help the environment, improve education, and fund arts initiatives.

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