Despite now serving a largely ceremonial role, the British Royal Family is as popular as ever. Fans still go crazy for Queen Elizabeth, and they’ve gladly welcomed Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle into the fold, too. However, we often neglect the most interesting member of the family.
Nope, we’re not talking about Prince Harry! Prince Charles has spent his entire life in the public eye, and as a result has become quite the character. Between strange quirks and complicated personal relationships, he leads a fascinating life that we cannot stop watching.
1. Believe it or not, Charles has a soft spot for the common squirrel. Prince William has admitted that his father has named many of the critters around their Scottish estate, and that Charles even lets his favorites into their home.
2. Although reporters called Charles and Diana’s marriage “The Wedding of the Century,” he didn’t quite agree. Some reports say he wept the night before the ceremony! Whatever lingering doubts the couple had eventually caused them to separate in 1992.
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3. Charles’ prize possession is an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, which he got as a 21st birthday present. In 2018, he added an interesting upgrade. Charles made the car more eco-friendly in that it no longer runs on gasoline, but on wine.
4. Whether he’s presiding over a formal event or lounging in the countryside, the Prince of Wales always dresses to the nines. His fashion sense is so admired that Esquire magazine dubbed him the “World’s Best-Dressed Man” in 2009.
5. It’s fortunate that Charles has a personal chef at his disposal because he’s quite the picky eater. For example, he’ll only eat eggs that have been boiled for exactly seven minutes. When he visits friends, he’ll often bring his own food rather than accept their hospitality.
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6. Charles has a fondness for the queen in Buckingham Palace and the ones in a deck of cards! A decently skilled magician, he passed an official examination to join the Magic Circle — a social organization of magicians — in 1975.
7. Many nobles are patrons of the arts, but Charles cuts out the middleman and does his own paintings! Critics haven’t treated his work with much warmth, but he does sell them for a good cause. He donates all the proceeds to charity.
8. While at university, Charles developed a huge crush on Barbra Streisand. Being a prince and all, he naturally had the chance to meet her a few times over the years. Rumors of an affair between the two bounced around, but there is no official proof.
9. An adamant lover of nature, Charles doesn’t just cultivate plants — he also talks to them! Charles has explained that he believes the odd habit helps his garden flourish. He’ll even threaten to toss plants on the compost heap if they don’t flower!
10. Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch in 2015, so it makes sense that Charles is also the longest-serving heir to the throne. He’s been waiting since 1953, and he wants it as badly as ever in his old age.
11. Before Charles fell for Diana, he actually dated her sister Sarah for a short time. Their relationship ended when Sarah expressed she had absolutely zero interest in marrying the Prince of Wales.
12. Like any sensible Briton, Charles is a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. He regularly reads the J.K. Rowling books to his grandchildren, and he even gives a different voice to each character! Now that’s an audiobook that we’d like to hear.
13. You probably know that it’s not unusual for members of various royal families to find out they’re related. However, Charles has one surprising royal relation. It turns out he’s descended from Vlad the Impaler, a medieval ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
14. Charles’ outspoken support for homeopathic medicine has generated a fair amount of controversy. Doctors in the United Kingdom bristle whenever he encourages their health system to embrace more alternative treatments, like herbal products, that have no proven benefits.
15. Years ago, Charles discovered that Prince Harry was drinking and smoking marijuana at school. To stop him from going down the wrong path, Charles sent his son to rehab for a day. The shocking experience made him drop his bad habits for good.
16. Charles has a contentious relationship with his father. Prince Philip pressured him into many big life events, including his attendance of Gordonstoun boarding school and his marriage to Diana Spencer. While Charles is a bleeding-heart romantic, Philip is a proud pragmatist.
17. Despite his struggles with his father, Charles was extremely close to his grandmother, the Queen Mother. While Philip often criticized Charles’ decisions, she took a supportive stance. When she passed away in 2002, Charles remarked that she meant everything to him.
18. Charles is a royal, but he’s no Marie Antoinette. He works tirelessly to help the less fortunate and preserve his nation’s history. His myriad of charity efforts raise over $100 million each year.
19. Did you know that Charles is also a published author? In 1984, he came out with a children’s book entitled, The Old Man of Lochnagar. The story centers around an elderly man who lives in a cave near the royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland.
20. Perhaps because of his picky eating habits, Charles started his own organic food company. Duchy Originals first hit the shelves in 1990 and has been going strong ever since. Of course, Charles donates a lion’s share of the profits to charity.
My Private Brand
Charles isn’t the only one with a surprising side. You see, most royals do anything but just sit around in palaces. From official political meetings to charities and causes, Queen Elizabeth and her crew never sit still!
Queen Elizabeth has no time for sleeping in, as she intends to answer her letters every morning… all 300-something of them. She tries to write back as many as she can; the rest is answered by her staff.
Next, her Majesty faces a packed schedule of political and social events, which are referred to as “engagements.” In fact, the Queen carried out more engagements (341) in 2015 than William, Harry, and Kate combined!
For lunch, she eats by herself or with her family, but she has also hosted several Head Of State luncheons with Prince Phillip. Dining with the Queen means following her very strict table manners.
After lunch, the Queen opens each session of Parliament in person, visits with the Prime Minister (as well as other world leaders), and gives her approval (Royal Assent) on legislation.
Still, there are fun things on her calendar as well, like personally presenting citizens with titles of honor, a.k.a.: knighting them. She recognizes achievements in the military, sciences, arts, and more. She has even knighted celebrities like Elton John, Helen Mirren, and Patrick Stewart!
Lastly, she does a ton of charity work. As of her 90th birthday in April 2016, the Queen was a patron of 600 charities, though the palace recently announced that she’d be handing off some of her roles in these organizations to other members of the family.
Of course, Prince Phillip joins her in most activities, but he has his own engagements as well. The 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh is reportedly patron to some 800 organizations and is active in most of them — try being that mobile at his age!
When neither the Queen nor her husband can attend an important event, their son Charles, heir to the throne, often goes in their place. He, along with his wife Camilla, is responsible for many international tours on the Queen’s behalf to help maintain foreign relations.
Military service remains close to his heart after his five years in the Royal Navy. Prince Charles currently holds the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal in the Army, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
Naturally, William and Harry need to keep up the pace as well. Until just a couple of years ago, Prince William was an air ambulance pilot. But he has taken on more royal duties, especially since his grandfather, Prince Philip, retired.
While William works hard to fill in for his grandparents, he also tries to find time for his family. In 2011, he married Kate Middleton, and the happy couple has since brought three children into the world. William tries to take them to school himself when he can.
Meanwhile, Will’s younger brother Harry has been keeping busy, too. Before settling down into marriage, Harry served in the British Armed Forces for 10 years and set up several charities overseas, including his Paralympics event: the Invictus Games.
These days, Harry’s head is focused on growing his own family. A few years after Will married Kate, Harry announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle. When he is not taking care of his wife, he tries to keep the media off their backs.
The ladies aren’t slacking either. A big part of Kate’s day is spent briefing with her secretary and advisers to keep her up to date on public, political, and cultural affairs. This helps the Duchess stay in the know so she can always say and do the right thing.
After spending the morning being briefed on current events, Kate Middleton makes public appearances and talks to many different organizations, specifically those who support the emotional and physical well-being of children.
In fact, Kate keeps so busy that when she started missing appearances here and there due to morning sickness, her pregnancy immediately became apparent to the world — way before she planned to announce it! And she takes care of three kids on top of it all.
Although Meghan Markle hasn’t been part of the royal family for long, she too keeps up with the Royals. In between baby showers and moving palaces, she has begun to play a role in the family’s mental health initiative and is a patron of the Royal Organization.
Meghan, or the Duchess of Sussex, has also acted as an advocate for feminism once running a lifestyle website The Tig, which profiled influential women. She even released two fashion collections with Canadian clothing company Reitmans in 2015 and 2016.
Lesser known but still popular among the masses are the Queen’s granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Eugenie is an associate director at an art gallery, and Princess Beatrice’s website says that she “works full time in the business world.”
Most importantly, the whole family works together to keep everything running smoothly. As a team, the Royals have about 2,000 engagements, entertain 70,000 guests, and answer 100,000 letters every year. So, while there are perks, it does take a lot of work!