As the world prepares to watch King Charles' historic coronation, we're digging through the archives to look back on his life. Keep scrolling to uncover who the man behind the crown really is.
Charles Is Born
On November 14, 1948, England welcomed a new prince into Buckingham Palace - the firstborn son of then Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Phillip. Weighing 7lb and 6oz, he was named Charles Philip Arthur George.
In response to the future King's birth announcement, celebratory cannon shots were fired in Hyde Park, and the bells of the Royal Abbey were run. One month later, on December 15, Prince Charles was christened in Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher.
King Charles might now have an entire kingdom under his control, but once upon a time, he was just a one-year-old with no responsibilities at all. He was the center of his parents' lives, providing some much-needed joy in the Palace in the years following King George VI's premature death.
This happy child was as adorable as they came, smiling for any photos required of him. In this picture, the future King of England had turned 1 year old, and it was a celebration for all. Of course, no one imagined it would be another 72 years until he would finally take the throne.
Time With Grandma
A family guy already from his early years, Prince Charles always maintained a close relationship with his maternal grandmother - King George VI's wife and the soon-to-be Queen Mother. He loved to spend time with her and their dog Pippin.
If this photo is anything to go off, it appears the love between Elizabeth and her grandson was mutual. Taken in the early 1950s, the two would go on to have many good years together until her death in March 2002. It's also worth noting young Charles' alikeness to his future son, Prince Harry!
As mentioned, Charles had many years to share with his grandmother, who lived to the wise old age of 101. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for his grandfather, King George VI, who passed away in 1952 at the young age of 56. Charles was just four years old when he had to say goodbye to his grandfather, the King of England.
Although it was short, it was certainly sweet, and Charles loved to chat and play with the reigning monarch. This photo was taken at Charles' third birthday celebrations, a year before George passed away and his daughter, Elizabeth II, took over the throne in his place.
Bored & Unimpressed
Talking of his mother becoming Queen, Prince Charles was left entirely unimpressed by the whole procession. Here, he is pictured in 1953, at Queen Elizabeth's coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey. While the moment meant a significant amount to the people of the Commonwealth, that seemingly excluded her son.
This photo depicts a young Queen Elizabeth accepting her new role as leader of the people. Standing by her mother, it's evident the two women understand the historical moment they are a part of. Prince Charles, on the other hand, is ready to go home. Here's hoping he'll seem a little more excited at his own coronation in May.
A Protective Sibling
The young Prince quickly settled into his new role as first in line to the throne. But before all of that, he was a big brother first and foremost, and that was a position he took just as seriously. For their first few years in the Palace, Charles had just one sibling to care for, his younger sister, Princess Anne.
In this photo, Charles can be seen tending to Anne, holding her hand as they walk down the steps together for the cameras. With just two years between them, the two were as thick as thieves. A few years later came Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, who Charles always looked out for as well.
The School Days
When coronation comes, King Charles will be expected to don the finest attire from the royal wardrobe archives. Thankfully, he's had 74 years in The Royal Family to prepare him, as he's been forced to dress his best for every public occasion. This photograph proves his younger school days were no different.
Dressed in a suit, tie, and cap, he's buttoned up and ready to get to work. The future Prince of Wales kept this up throughout his time in education, which finished in 1967. At age 8, he began to study at Hill House School in London. From there, he moved over to Berkshire Cheam Preparatory School.
Now a teenager, Charles attempted to learn the art of flying. The aspiring pilot practiced with some of the best, going on to fly on his own for the next 25 years. After joining the military, he began piloting the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aircraft. Sadly, a 1994 flying accident caused him to give up on one of the things he loved most, and he quit piloting.
"With hindsight... I told him to land, so he did exactly what he was told to do," the Queen's Flight pilot Graham Laurie recalled. While flying his mother's million-dollar jet in the Inner Hebrides, the 30mph winds caused him to overshoot the Scottish runway and burst three of its tires.
The Prince of Wales
Although Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1953, it wasn't until five years later that Prince Charles was given his formal title. In the summer of 1958, he was officially named the Prince of Wales, a position he took over from the Queen's uncle, Edward VIII.
In July 1959, an official investiture ceremony took place at Caernarfon Castle, where the Queen coronated her son as the Prince of Wales live on television. Prince Charles went on to be the longest-serving prince of Wales, maintaining the position for 64 years and 44 days until he took over as King in 2022.
A Royal Portrait
Getting a family of 6 together in one room is challenging for most parents, and the Royals are no exception. In what would be a rare event, Queen Elizabeth is photographed here in 1972, alongside her husband Phillip and their four children - Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward.
With the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Edward all gazing into the eyes of Prince Andrew, it appears Prince Charles and Princess Anne have been edged out - both metaphorically and physically. The eldest two were instructed to sit on the arms of the sofa, and they didn't look too happy about it!
Big Bro, Little Bro
Regardless of the suspected favoritism on behalf of their parents, Prince Charles never held any resentment against his youngest sibling, Prince Edward. This photograph from 1976 emphasizes the considerable age gap between the two brothers, who are visually from different generations.
In this photo, 28-year-old Prince Charles and 12-year-old Prince Edward lock eyes in mutual support. While Charles is giving off a supportive, protective older brother vibe, Edward smiles back at him with respect and admiration. This supportive brotherly dynamic remains in place today.
Although Prince Charles took his royal duties as seriously as he could, he still made time for some well-needed fun once in a while. In a more infrequent sighting, he can be seen laughing and messing about with the locals at Bisley Rifle Range. The crowds simply loved him.
From the day he was born, the royal heir was chauffered around in all the most luxurious forms of transport. In this picture, he proved to the people that he was one of them, happy and willing to drive himself in a more modestly sized vehicle. Of course, he was joking, but the sentiment was genuine.
Loving Lady Di
After all those years of messing around, it was finally time for the future King to settle down and marry. Three years after Charles was first introduced to Diana Spencer, the two began dating in 1980. The pair went on thirteen dates before the Prince popped the question in February 1981.
On February 24, 1981, the deliriously happy lovebirds announced their engagement to the world, posing happily for photographs to mark the occasion. "[I'm] delighted and happy. I'm amazed that she's been brave enough to take me on," Prince Charles jokingly said to the BBC then.
Three weeks into their marriage, Charles and Diana were a picture of marital bliss. Their wedding had been one for the books - going down in history as one of the most historical and monumental weddings of the 20th century. While the crowds cheered, the bride and groom went in for a kiss.
Now the public had all returned home; the newlyweds embarked on their honeymoon adventure. Although they had the ability to visit any country they desired, they made the unusual choice to visit one of their Royal Homes in Scotland. Here, they're seen happily braving the cold at Balmoral Castle.
Keen to start a family and give birth to the next heir to the throne, Charles and Diana wasted no time and announced their first pregnancy mere months after walking down the aisle. Nine months later, almost a year after they wed, they appeared on the hospital steps holding their firstborn son, William.
As their firstborn, William was now officially second in line to the throne. This photo, taken a day after he was born in 1982, marked a new exciting chapter in The Royal Family and the continuation of the many traditions they favored. He was christened on August 4, 1982, by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Full of joy and love over their adorable child, Charles and Diana knew they needed to expand their family further. Not only did William need a younger sibling, but a second child would also act as a spare to the throne. “I hope it will be a girl this time,” Charles gushed, according to the Daily Mail, after announcing the news of a second child.
Sure enough, two years after William was born, Prince Harry was welcomed into the world. This photograph, snapped in 1984, features the parents standing yet again on the steps of London's St. Mary's hospital. This time, it was to show baby Harry off to the crowds, who cheered at their appearance. Their journey was just beginning...
Behind the Smiles
Charles and Diana's marriage started as peacefully as possible - well, according to the pictures, at least. Photographed here in July 1986, the family of four put on their best attire and smiles for the camera. Standing amongst the wildflowers in the meadow at Highgrove, the moment was picture-perfect.
Years later, we uncovered that an entirely different narrative was playing out behind the scenes. According to Prince Charles' authorized biography, this was the year he began his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Rumors also circulated around Diana and her alleged affair with James Hewitt.
Over the next five years, Charles and Diana found themselves at the center of much public drama. After adamantly refusing all the accusations of rifts and trouble in their marriage, they finally gave in and announced their separation in December 1992. Through all of this, Charles kept his focus on his children.
In this photo, Charles can be seen laughing and bonding with his eldest son, William. Taken at an event in 1995, the father of two was evidently putting all the drama behind him, showing his firstborn how to keep things light even at the more serious times.
The Infamous Geri Moment
Coming in as one of the most iconic photographs on Prince Charles's record is this one taken at the Royal Gala Performance in 1997. To celebrate the 21st Anniversary of The Prince's Trust Charity, the best in the music and comedy industry were invited to come and entertain the Royals.
Perhaps taking their job a little too literally, Spice Girls Geri Halliwell and Mel B planted an unexpected kiss on Prince Charles' face. And Geri didn't stop there. Here she can be seen cuddling up to an uncooperative and nervous Charles, who wasn't quite sure how to handle this level of female attention.
The Calm Before the Storm
This heartwarming photo of Prince Charles and a young Prince Harry in August 1997 would soon be referred to as the calm before the storm. Snapped by the River Dee on the Balmoral Castle Estate, the two are smiling happily and carefree - bonding as father and son.
They could never have imagined that by the end of the month, their entire lives would be shaken up by the premature death of a loved one. The family, who had already been through so much, were forced to say goodbye to Diana, who was tragically killed in a car crash in France.
Princess Diana's Funeral
On September 6, 1997, Princess Diana was laid to rest in a publicly broadcasted funeral procession. Charles is seen in this photograph supporting his two sons through his heartbreaking moment as they walked together behind his ex-wife's and his children's mother's casket.
Looking back on this painful moment in the 2017 Diana, 7 Days documentary, Prince Harry praised his father's strength and support. "[Charles] was there for us - he was the one out of two left, and he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after."
Closer Than Ever
The years following the death of Princess Diana were difficult for everyone involved, most of all her children, William and Harry. Thankfully, they had their dad, Prince Charles, to keep an eye out and assist them through this loss. Even through their teenage years, the father and sons remained close.
Snapped in 2002, 18-year-old Harry and 20-year-old William are seen lovingly embracing their father while on a skiing trip in Switzerland. Unlike most boys their age, they seemed happy to be spending time with their father, even smiling for photos on the job!
Charles & Camilla Wed
On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles finally made things official with the love of his life, Camilla Parker Bowles. Before involving the public, the couple exchanged vows at a private wedding ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. Charles' son, Prince William, acted as the best man.
Following this intimate celebration, the newly married Charles and Diana participated in a televised event at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. The world watched as a prayer service and dedication were conducted to honor their union. Here, they exchange loving glances as if the cameras didn't exist.
King Charles hasn't always necessarily been known for his humor, but every once in a while, he would get the room going. While no one can ever be sure of what broke these three royals into fits of laughter, there's no denying it's a beautiful and rare sight to be seen.
Photographed in 2009 at Scotland's Braemar Gathering, The Queen and her two eldest children appear in high spirits. The royals, who are often accused of being stiff and perhaps unrelatable, shared this adorable moment and reminded everyone that they're just a regular family at the end of the day.
Colorful Family Reunion
In a picture that represents one of the happier periods in recent royal history, Charles is pictured here in 2018 with all of his family by his side. As part of the Trooping The Colour ceremony, he appeared on the royal balcony alongside his mother, children, in-laws, and grandchildren.
At first glance, the family appears as a united unit, smiling happily together. Charles can even be seen enthusiastically conversing with his son and daughter-in-law, Harry and Meghan. Years down the line, the bubbles beneath the surface would finally burst, and the rifts in the family would become public knowledge.
Another Heir Is Born
Excitement ran through the Palace in July 2013 as news spread of Prince George's birth. Replacing his uncle Prince Harry, the eldest son of Prince William and Kate Middleton was now the third in line to the throne. A likely relief to Prince Charles, the bloodline of duty had been secured.
Appearing here alongside his wife, Prince Charles and Camilla are all smiles while exiting the private christening ceremony of the new prince and, more importantly, his first grandchild. Since this day, the now Charles and George have developed a close bond, mirroring the one the now-king had with his own grandparents.
On September 8, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. local time, a public announcement declared that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away. Almost immediately, her loyal subjects entered a national mourning period as they grieved the sovereign they respected so profoundly.
However, while the country was overwhelmed with uncertainty over the news, Prince Charles stepped up and attempted to reassure the people. In a public broadcast, he confirmed that he would succeed his mother and become King, leading the country through this challenging period of change.
Now the country had been given a new sovereign; it was time for King Charles to pay his respects to his mother and send her off in the way she deserved. The State Funeral took place on September 19 at Westminster Abbey and was broadcasted for the world to participate in the mourning.
Following a dedication by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Queen's coffin was carried to Wellington Arch via The Mall on the State Gun Carriage. A heartbroken King Charles led his family as he followed closely behind the procession and said his goodbyes to his darling mother.
Amongst all the public and tabloid discussions of the Queen's funeral, it was the appearance of Prince Harry that received the most attention. After he and his wife Meghan quit their royal duties in March 2020, they relocated to the US, where they shaded their family during an Oprah interview.
After they announced their departure, sources reported rifts amongst the family, particularly between Charles' two sons and between Harry and Charles. "I had... 2 conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls," he told Oprah. Here, the two are seen walking side by side with stern expressions - giving credibility to these claims.
Come Saturday, May 6, 2023, Charles will be officially crowned King in his formal coronation ceremony. Besides the fact that it will take place at Westminster Abbey in London, little is known about what the day will involve. The question on everyone's lips is who will be in attendance.
Like every other Coronation ceremony before it, the prime minister, members of the Houses of Parliament, and heads of state will all be in the audience. In the wake of increased tensions between Charles and Harry, the world waits in anticipation to see if the ex-royals will make the guest list...