Charles the new King: In his own words

·10-min read
Charles on his 70th birthday (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Charles on his 70th birthday (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Charles has been a frank commentator on GM crops and monstrous carbuncles, admitted adultery on national television and confessed to talking to his plants.

Here’s a look at the new King in his own words over the years:

“I know my mother is the Queen, but how do I put that on the envelope?” – Charles writing his first letter home from boarding school in 1957.

“I simply dread going to bed as I get hit all night long … It is hell here, especially at night.” – Letter home about being bullied at Gordonstoun in 1962.

“I gave up smoking at the age of 11. I had one or two strong ones behind the chicken run at school.” – Speaking about his school days in 1998.

“You’ve got to choose somebody very carefully, I think, who could fulfil this particular role, because people like you perhaps would expect quite a lot from somebody like that, and it has got to be somebody pretty special.” – Charles on marriage in 1969.

The Prince of Wales in 1969 (PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales in 1969 (PA) (PA Archive)

“I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually.” – On finding out that Camilla Parker Bowles was engaged to be married, in a letter to Earl Mountbatten in 1972.

“Yes, whatever ‘in love’ means, put your own interpretation.” – The prince’s reply when he and his then fiancee Lady Diana Spencer were asked if they were in love in 1981.

“He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.” – Writing to a friend after the birth of first-born Prince William in 1982.

“A monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend” – How the Prince described the proposed National Gallery extension during a speech to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1984. Following his comment, the plan was changed.

“I just come and talk to the plants really. Very important to talk to them; they respond, I find.” – Television interview in his Highgrove garden in 1986.

“A clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting.” – Charles’s comment in 1988 on the National Theatre building on the capital’s South Bank.

Charles: “Oh, God. I’ll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!” – In the Camillagate taped conversation between the prince and Mrs Parker Bowles recorded in 1989, published in 1993.Camilla: “What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Oh, you’re going to come back as a pair of knickers.Charles: “Or, God forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck.”

“Love you too. I don’t want to say goodbye.” – Charles to Camilla in the Camillagate tape.

“Yes, until it became irretrievably broken down – us both having tried.” – The prince admitting adultery when married to Diana, Prince of Wales, in his 1994 Jonathan Dimbleby TV documentary.

The Prince and Princess of Wales attend the State Opening of Parliament in 1991 (Tony Harris/PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince and Princess of Wales attend the State Opening of Parliament in 1991 (Tony Harris/PA) (PA Archive)

“Mrs Parker Bowles is a great friend of mine and I have a large number of friends. She has been a friend for a very long time along with a lot of other friends and will continue to be a friend for a very long time.” – On Camilla in his 1994 Jonathan Dimbleby TV documentary

“I personally would much rather see it as Defender of Faith, not the Faith, because it means just one particular interpretation of the Faith, which I think is sometimes something that causes a great deal of a problem.” – On his views on the monarch as head of the Church of England.

“It always seems to me that while at the same time being Defender of the Faith you can also be protector of faiths.” – Charles backtracking on the issue in 2015.

“Appalling old waxworks” – The prince’s description of Chinese leaders from his journal written after the 1997 visit to Hong Kong for the ceremony marking the formal handover of the colony to China.

The Prince of Wales and the British Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten in Hong KOng for the handover in 1997 (PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales and the British Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten in Hong KOng for the handover in 1997 (PA) (PA Archive)

“Genetically altered food crops take mankind into realms that belong to God, and to God alone.” – Campaigning against GM crops in 2002.

“What is wrong with everyone nowadays? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?… People seem to think they can all be pop stars, High Court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability. This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.” – A private memo written by Charles in March 2003.

“All the time I feel I must justify my existence.” – Charles interviewed by upmarket men’s magazine Esquire in 2007.

“We are standing at a moment of substantial transition where we face the dual challenges of a world view and an economic system that seem to have enormous shortcomings, together with an environmental crisis – including that of climate change – which threatens to engulf us all.” – Charles delivering the Richard Dimbleby lecture in 2009.

“I happily talk to the plants and the trees, and listen to them. I think it’s absolutely crucial.” – Charles speaking to gardener and presenter Alan Titchmarsh during a documentary screened in 2010.

The Prince of Wales planting a tree in Serbia (Sean Gallup/PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales planting a tree in Serbia (Sean Gallup/PA) (PA Archive)

“Well, darling boy, it makes me very proud to think that you understand.” – to the Duke of Sussex about climate change as Harry interviewed him for Radio 4’s Today programme in 2017.

“You know, I’ve tried to make sure whatever I’ve done has been non-party political, and I think it’s vital to remember there’s only room for one sovereign at a time, not two. So, you can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir.” – Charles on being heir to the throne, speaking in a BBC 70th birthday documentary

“The idea somehow that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two – the two situations – are completely different.” – BBC 70th birthday documentary.

“No, it won’t. I’m not that stupid. I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So, of course I understand entirely how that should operate.” – On whether his “meddling” would continue when he is king. BBC documentary for his 70th birthday 2018.

“Good luck tree” – at each official tree planting, followed by a ritual of touching the trunk for luck.

– The Duke of Cambridge on Charles

“He’s the fittest man I know but equally I want him to be fit until he’s 95, you know, going on. So having more time with him at home would be lovely, and being able to, you know, play around with the grandchildren. Because when he’s there, he’s brilliant, but we need him there as much as possible.” – On Charles as a grandfather.

“His passion for the environment and the natural world is something I want to repeat in the way I raise George, Charlotte and Louis.” – William praising his father’s love of the countryside.

“My father’s focus on the environment is something I’ve looked up to all my life.”

“He is completely infatuated by the red squirrels that live around the estate in Scotland – to the extent that he’s given them names and is allowing them into the house.” – William on Charles’s love of red squirrels.

– The Duke of Sussex on Charles

“He does need to slow down, 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 of where he’ll wake up with a piece of paper stuck to his face.” – Harry on Charles’s work ethic.

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex during a discussion about violent youth crime at a forum held at Clarence House in London (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex during a discussion about violent youth crime at a forum held at Clarence House in London (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

“When we were kids, there was bags and bags and bags of work the office just sent to him. We could barely even get to his desk to say goodnight to him.” – Harry in a documentary to mark Charles’s 70th.

“I totally see it and I totally understand it because of all these years of conversations that we’ve been having, and I do end up picking your brains more now than I ever have done.” – Harry talking to Charles about the environment on the Today programme.

“Thank you Pa.” – Harry to Charles after he walked Meghan Markle to the altar at their wedding.

“I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar … I will always love him. But there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.” – Harry to Oprah Winfrey about his relationship with Charles.

“If I’ve experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don’t pass it on, basically” – Harry on a podcast.

– The Queen on Charles

“We both of us have a special place in our hearts for our children. I want to express my admiration for the Prince of Wales and all he has achieved for this country. Our children, and all my family, have given me such love and unstinting help over the years, and especially in recent months.” – Golden Jubilee address to the Guildhall in 2002 – the year both the Queen’s mother and sister died.

The Prince of Wales, the Queen and US President Donald Trump at the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings (Jack Hill/The Times/PA) (PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales, the Queen and US President Donald Trump at the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings (Jack Hill/The Times/PA) (PA Wire)

“They have overcome Becher’s Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I’m very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves.” – Speaking at Charles and Camilla’s wedding reception in 2005 on the same day as the Grand National.

“Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader — a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history — and a wonderful father.” – The Queen on Charles’ 70th birthday.

“Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative.” – The Queen in her toast to Charles on his 70th.

“So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original.” – The Queen comparing Charles to his organic food brand famous for its biscuits on his 70th.

– The Duchess of Cornwall on Charles

“I will tell you that he is the most difficult person in the world to buy a present for … So he likes to make a list of things that he wants so you get it exactly right.” – Camilla in 2013 about buying him presents.

The Prince of Wales with the Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to Devon (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales with the Duchess of Cornwall on a visit to Devon (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

“He loves walking, so that might do it. We see the sun all the time but we never get the chance to just go and sit in it. So that would be bliss. So maybe I will persuade him. But no, my husband is not one for chilling.” – On how he might have celebrated turning 65 in 2013.

“He reads them Harry Potter. And he does all the voices, because he is a brilliant mimic … I always think they are going to be wriggling around in the bed, but they sit spellbound. He’s extremely good with children. They love it.” – On Charles reading to her grandchildren.

“He’s a very exceptional man. They see him as a very serious person, which he is. But I would like a lot of people to see the lighter side of him.” – In a BBC documentary marking Charles’s 70th.

“I would love to tell him to pace himself, but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.” – On wanting her husband to slow down.