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Fit for a King: Will Charles set a new royal standard of style for others to follow?

Fit for a King: Will Charles set a new royal standard of style for others to follow?

Following King Charles' coronation the world has been inundated with images of the new British monarch's grand, traditional royal clothing, including an impressive, embellished crown and slightly ostentatious orb sceptre, along with a purple cloak - traditionally the preserve of only the noble-born - and ermine cape.

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King Charles III wearing the Imperial state Crown and carrying the Sovereign's Orb and Sceptre - Copyright AFP or Licensors

Charles, though, is often appreciated for his more casual looks - if his signature double-breasted suit can be called casual. Yes, the 74-year-old is well-known among experts for rarely putting a foot wrong in the style stakes, from his neat two pieces in teenage-hood, to polo outfits in young adulthood, to safari suits on royal visits to his favourite classically cut suits today.

While talk surrounding Charles’ coronation outfit has chiefly focused on all the pomp and ceremony involved in the look - despite his promise it would be more ‘low-key’ than those featured in previous affairs - Euronews Culture is diving into the archives to examine some of the monarch’s best style choices from childhood to 2023.

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In 1951, the then Prince Charles poses with his parents, grandparents, Aunt Margaret and baby sister Anne - Copyright Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

In this image from a royal family gathering at Balmoral in Scotland, Charles poses with his family, including new baby sister Anne. Despite the possibly chilly Scottish temperatures, the then prince is pictured wearing shorts, a long-established tradition for boys in the royal family. Typically, any British royal sons are expected to wear shorts, as opposed to long trousers, until the age of eight. Explaining the choice in 2018, etiquette expert William Hanson told Harper's Bazaar, "It's a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts. Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England”.

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A 13-year-old Charles shakes hands with the headmaster of Gordonstoun School, his alma mater - Copyright Hulton Deutsch/Corbis via Getty Images

The one phrase which sums up Charles' style throughout his life is 'classically British'. Even as a teenager, he never put a foot wrong, always favouring neat, traditional tailoring regardless of the occasion - even when starting at senior school or at home for a special event, the young Charles looked like a royal and was mostly incredibly smartly dressed, fitting for his position as heir to the throne.

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Charles at 16 celebrating his mother's birthday at Windsor with his parents, sister Anne and baby brother Edward in 1965 - Copyright Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/2016 Getty Images

Even when not in tailoring, as a young man Charles was always appropriately dressed. Seen here with his late father Philip and sister Anne on a skiing trip to Liechtenstein in 1965, Charles chose to wear a jazzy, winter-themed knit with his activewear.

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Charles, flanked by his sister and father, on a skiing holiday to Liechtenstein in December 1965 - Copyright Express/Getty Images
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Best of British - Charles c.1974 in Australia wearing a traditional trench coat - Copyright Getty Images

Tinker tailor

Charles, as the figurehead of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, has always understood the importance of representing his country - and its style heritage. During a trip to Australia in c.1974, the then Prince wore a Burberry trench coat from the British heritage brand - and he’s made a point of wearing the design throughout his life, as well as other examples of the country’s craftsmanship.

Also favouring bespoke double-breasted suits from Savile Row’s Anderson & Sheppard and knitwear by Johnstons of Elgin, among pieces from many other British brands also boasting Royal Warrants, Charles truly flies the flag for ‘UK PLC’.

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Very smart, a little casual - Charles in Australia c.1974 - Copyright Getty Images

Surrounded by people wearing shorts in the appropriate setting of an Australian beach, Charles made sure not to let the royal side down, wearing a safari shirt and tailored trousers for his 'on tour' look. While very young royal males are expected to wear shorts, they won't be caught in them in adulthood, even when they'd look the part.

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Charles speaks to crowds in Ottawa, Canada, circa 1975 - Copyright Getty Images

Even as a young man, Charles understood how important it was to look royal when meeting his subjects around the world. While his late mother Queen Elizabeth famously wore bright colours so she could be easily spotted in a crowd, Charles has always chosen impeccable tailoring to ensure he's noticed on official business.

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Anyone for polo? Charles in sportswear in 1977 - Copyright Getty Images

The British royal family are known for their love of sports and athletic ability - and Charles has been no exception. A successful polo player in his youth, the then prince somehow made the boxy kit look elegant compared to his fellow team members, cutting a dashing figure between chukkas.

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Charles learns a soul dance routine during a visit to St George's Secondary School in Maida Vale, London, on 27 June 1978 - Copyright Central Press/Getty Images

Charles' super smart suit and tie combination should look out of place in this 1978 visit to a London school where he was taught a soul dance, but somehow it doesn't. The new King has shown himself to have a sense of fun - see, among numerous other examples, his meeting with the Spice Girls - and despite his somewhat 'stiff' outfit here, his embracing of the mood helps him to fit in.

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Brothers in slacks - Charles with his siblings Edward and Andrew at Balmoral on 20 September 1979 - Copyright Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The 1970s has a lot to answer for fashion-wise, with less-than-attractive fabrics and prints - both seen here on Charles' youngest sibling Edward - but, in this family snap from 1979, Charles proved that by choosing classic cuts and keeping style simple, it was possible to escape the decade unscathed.

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Charles in black tie in Washington D.C. with his late wife Diana in 1985 - Copyright WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

Charles' first wife Diana is often referred to as the ultimate style icon, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the then Prince of Wales decided to up his fashion game to keep up with her. Seen here with former U.S. President George H. W. Bush in a similar outfit, Charles carries the black tie look off with extra panache.

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Charles after a polo game at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor c.1986 - Copyright Getty Images

This look from 1986 is a perfect example of 'Charles off-duty'. Although the sunglasses are perhaps not the most timeless choice, the royal's double-breasted navy blue blazer with gold buttons and hint of a pocket square is classic and, as always, entirely appropriate attire.

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Military style - Charles joins his mother at 2002's Trooping of the Colour - Copyright Getty Images

The royal men are proud of their military chops and wear their official uniforms for many special occasions. While some members of the royal family haven't, in actual fact, spent much time in the forces, Charles himself has served in the both Royal Navy and Royal Air Force - and the elegant outfit that comes with the role for royals suits him down to the ground.

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Wedding day style - Charles at his 2005 marriage ceremony to Camilla - Copyright Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

When Charles married Camilla, who was crowned alongside him, in 2005 he made sure to tie in with her outfit in his own look. While his black jacket is traditional wedding garb, the colours of his waistcoat and tie perfectly complement those of her jacket and Philip Treacy headpiece, while his floral buttonhole matches her bouquet perfectly.

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Charles laughs with the late Queen at the 2006 Braemar Gathering in Scotland - Copyright 2006 Getty Images

The British royal family are well known for their love of Scotland - and the late Queen spent her final days at Balmoral Castle - and, while in residence, Charles has always dressed the part. Again representing UK PLC in his Harris tweed and kilt, Charles looks elegant and comfortable in an outfit many couldn't pull off.

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Three generations of style - Charles, his late father Philip and son William at a reception at Buckingham Palace - Copyright WPA Pool/2016 Getty Images

British royal style is instantly recognisable around the world for its tradition and, despite matching exactly with his late father and son, Charles makes this white tie look his own at a reception at Buckingham Palace in 2016.

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In mourning style - Charles in London the day after his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II passed away, September 2022 - Copyright AFP via Getty Images

Even in the most difficult of circumstances, Charles has proven again and again that he rarely puts a sartorial foot wrong. Thrust into the world's lens the day after his mother's death on 8 September 2022, the new King travelled to London to meet Elizabeth's adoring public in full mourning-wear. Although no doubt grieving himself, Charles looked dapper in his black suit, announcing himself as the new monarch in elegant style.