In a statement released shortly after the official announcement of her death, Charles described the death of his “beloved” mother as “a moment of greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.” The days following the Queen’s death were a time when Charles took up his new duties and mourned a great personal loss.
In the public eye throughout his life, he is a familiar figure to many in Britain and around the world. But no one knows yet what kind of monarch King Carlos III will be — the title he has taken, ending years of speculation –.
As CNN’s royal correspondent, I’ve covered Britain’s new king for many years and traveled the world with him.
This is the place that brings together everything for the new King, his greatest passions and causes: from music to the protection of rare breeds, studies for underprivileged youth and organic farming. The whole estate is abuzz with activity, and I could see how excited he was to walk around and ask questions of his staff.
Every Friday night, wherever he is in the world, Charles sends him a hefty report detailing the work of the estate and returns it to them early Saturday morning with notes. His wife Camilla will tell you that he stays up late every night reading, writing and answering requests for help and advice.
Where many of his predecessors saw the role of the Prince of Wales as a ticket to the playboy lifestyle and guaranteed income, Charles professionalized it and made it his own. He wanted an inheritance, but he didn’t want to wait until he was King. In my experience, he is impatient and driven, and gets extremely frustrated if one of his projects doesn’t work or bear fruit.
“The signs were there from a young age,” Kenneth Dunsmuir told me during a visit to Dumfries House. Dunsmuir runs The Prince’s Foundation, an educational charity created by Charles to help teach traditional arts and skills. “The community’s concerns about social issues and ecological issues were there and what has happened is that it has become more and more involved and has had time to do so.”
Dunsmuir’s comment points to another reason Charles achieved so much during his reign: he was the longest-serving Prince of Wales ever due to the length of his mother’s reign. Dunsmuir considers Dumfries House to be “a wonderful physical legacy of that work that will always be here and always will be”.
Charles has often struggled to maintain his passion for his job, expressing his hopes and fears in speeches over the years and often looking more like a campaigner than a constitutional monarch-in-waiting. This led to accusations that it was threatening the independence and impartiality of the monarchy. Take climate change, which has been talked about since 1968. It has since become a hot topic and, for some, a political one. Charles was a prominent supporter of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and discussed the issue with Donald Trump over tea in December 2019, when the then-president was poised to withdraw the United States from the pact.
The following month, at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Charles gave a powerful speech, asking: “Do we want to go down in history as the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink? What balance could we take? I don’t want to.” ».
Despite being criticized, and sometimes ridiculed, for the royal’s struggle to be an eco-warrior, Charles has continued to be a pioneer in green issues in recent years.
Charles was in his element at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November 2021, where he pleaded with countries to work with industry to create solutions to climate change.
“We know this is going to take trillions of dollars, not trillions,” he said at the time. Climate change and the loss of biodiversity pose a major threat and the world must go “on a war footing” to combat them, he added.
Charles has spoken on many sensitive topics from genetically modified crops to homeopathic medicines and architecture. It has made her a more divisive figure than her mother, who hardly ever cracked an expression during her reign, let alone voiced an opinion. Elizabeth’s legendary ability to not offend and alienate was more strategic than many thought, but Charles has always insisted that he wants to stay his own way and stop meddling in taking the throne.
In all the conversations I’ve had with family members and their aides, there’s never been any mention of the more popular Prince William usurping his father’s throne.
Charles has spent his entire life preparing to become a sovereign and has certainly proven that he is not shy about the job. While William has never been in a rush to take the crown, he has preferred to steadily build his royal portfolio while focusing on his young family and developing his own set of interests and causes.
Charles and William reunited personally and professionally in 2020 when Prince Harry stepped back from his royal duties, leaving the rest of the royals a much tighter group. The relationship between the new king and his heir will now be crucial to the future stability of the monarchy, as will the dynamic between the new king and his wife.
I have seen that Camilla has always been a support for Charles. I’ve seen in her work how flustered and frustrated she can become when faced with an obstacle, and she has a unique talent for dissipating any tension with a humor and charisma that can’t be seen on camera.
In 2015 I sat down with Charles at another of his Scottish residences: Birkhall in the Highlands. It was to celebrate the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary ahead of a US tour.
She told me, “It’s always wonderful to have someone who, you know, understands and wants to cheer you on. She definitely makes fun of me if I get too serious. And that all helps.”
After the interview, I went into a living room with him and Camilla joined us while we waited for the cameras to be ready for some montage shots. Camilla was asking how she was doing and joking about our outfits, and was instantly more relaxed in her company. Her ability to settle a room has made her a national asset, the wife of the country’s head of state — and a symbol of stability.
With Camilla firmly at his side, Charles will put his stamp on the monarchy. After decades of waiting, he is not only the head of state for the United Kingdom, but also for 14 other nations including Canada and Australia. The eyes of the world are upon him as he assumes the mantle of King.