1. At 67 on November 14, he is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, having held the position since his grandfather George VI died in 1952. He is also the oldest person to be next-in-line to the throne since Sophia of Hanover, the heir presumptive to Queen Anne, who died in 1714 at the age of 83.
2. In 1980, he published a children’s story, The Old Man of Lochnegar, which is about an old man who goes to live in a cave to seek peace and quiet and a hot bath. The cave is near Balmoral, in Scotland. The book was made into an animated short film by the BBC, a musical play, and a ballet staged by the National Youth Ballet, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, in 2007.
3. In the 1970s, Charles expressed an interest in becoming Governor-General of Australia. He had lived here earlier, during two terms at Geelong Grammar in 1966. However, the 1970s was a time of political upheaval in Australia with the dismissal of the Whitlam government, and nothing came of the idea. Prince Charles was believed to be disappointed and reported to have said: “What are you supposed to think when you are prepared to do something to help and you are told you are not wanted?”
4. Before either of his marriages, Prince Charles proposed to his cousin Amanda Knatchbull, the grand-daughter of his great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten. But Amanda had suffered the loss of her grandfather, her paternal grandmother and her youngest brother Nicholas in a bomb attack, and she was now reluctant to join the royal family.
5. Prince Charles has long been associated with such causes as the environment and naturopathy. On 27 August 2012, he addressed the World Conservation Congress, supporting the view that grazing animals are needed to keep soils and grassland productive: “I have been particularly fascinated, for example, by the work of a remarkable man called Allan Savory in Zimbabwe and other semi arid areas, who has argued for years against the prevailing expert view that is the simple numbers of cattle that drive overgrazing and cause fertile land to become desert. On the contrary, as he has since shown so graphically, the land needs the presence of feeding animals and their droppings for the cycle to be complete, so that soils and grassland areas stay productive. Such that, if you take grazers off the land and lock them away in vast feedlots, the land dies.”
6. Jomo Kenyatta was the founder of Kenya. He died in 1978 and at his funeral, Prince Charles blatantly ignored the proffered hand of Idi Amin, the ruthless, tyrannical and brutal president of Uganda. Amin could do nothing but turn away in embarrassment.
7. It has been reported that Charles has read only one novel. He read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as a young man, and has since declined to read another. A friend said he liked it, but not enough to explore further. “He always wanted to stick to history or essays.”
8. Prince Charles made a much-remembered appearance on the marathon British television serial Coronation Street. To honour the Manchester television studio’s 40th birthday, Charles made a visit. This event was incorporated into a live episode which was watched by 17 million viewers across the United Kingdom.
9. He is a father, a grandfather, and also a godfather to 32, including Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his daughter, Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece.
10. His sport has always been polo. He played his first game in 1963. But he gave up in 2005, after suffering a broken arm in 1990, being knocked unconscious in 2001, and various other calamities over 42 years.
12. For his 21st birthday, Charles’ parents gave him an Aston Martin sports car. Forty-one years later it was in this car that his son, Prince William, drove his new wife Kate out of Buckingham Palace after their wedding there in 2011. In 1968 he bought a cobalt blue MGC GT.
13. Charles is almost always seen dressed in an immaculately well-tailored suit. This was recognised by Esquire magazine in 2009 when he was named “best dressed man in the world”. He has more than 60 hand-made suits and his collar stays are made of gold or silver. His shoelaces are said to be ironed by a valet whenever he removes his hand-made shoes.
14. The prince is said to be guilty about his enormous wealth. He is Patron of more than 400 charities, which help people from many different backgrounds including young people, unemployed people, the elderly, people who live in communities in the countryside and homeless people. The first charity The Prince set up was The Prince’s Trust in 1976. To create the charity he used money he was given when he left the navy.
15. His hobbies include watercolour painting, organic gardening at his Highgrove home, hedge laying, polo, writing books, acting, driving sports cars, music (he used to play the cello).
CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL
1. She was the first child of Major Bruce Shand and his wife the Honourable Rosalind Shand. Camilla Rosemary Shand was born at King’s College Hospital, London, on 17 July 1947, 16 months before her future husband Prince Charles.
2. Apart from being a Major, her father was a successful wine merchant, and also Vice Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex. From a very early age, Camilla Shand socialised with members of Britain’s royal circles. Camilla attended Dumbrells School, a co-ed school in Sussex. She then went on to fashionable Queen’s Gate School in South Kensington. She also attended Mon Fertile finishing school in Switzerland and studied at the Institute Britannique in Paris.
3. While her husband is known for his water colours, Camilla is an oil painter. She also likes watching television, reading, fishing, walking in the countryside and gardening.
4. Camilla Parker Bowles has two children from her first marriage to Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles. She has a son named Tom, who is a food writer, and a daughter named Laura, an art curator. She also has five grandchildren. One of her grandchildren, Elizabeth Lopes, was a bridesmaid at the wedding of William and Kate.
5. Camilla is passionate about animal welfare. She has two “rescue dogs”. She adopted Beth, a Jack Russell in 2011, and Bluebell, also a Jack Russell, a year later from South London’s famous Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where she is a frequent visitor.
6. She is a distant cousin of Madonna and Celine Dion.
7. Her favourite television show is The Killing. When she visited the set during a tour of Scandinavia, she seemed star struck by the actors.
8. She has her own potion for remaining young in appearance. It is an organic face lift that is applied as a bee venom face mask. It is said to “contain the magic bee venom ingredient that works to control and facial muscles for immediate lifting, tightening and firming, whilst getting to work on frown lines and wrinkles”.
9. The Queen seemed unsure about her son’s relationship with Camilla in the early days. But she eventually approved their marriage, and earlier this year Camilla was appointed to the highest female rank of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen. This gave her the title Dame Grand Cross, and was seen as a further sign of acceptance by the Queen.
10. At Wimbledon this year, Scottish player Andy Murray threw his signed wristband to Camilla. She put it on eBay and it sold for 2100 pounds. Camilla donated this to the Royal Veterinary College Animal Care Trust, as suggested by Andy Murray.
11. While she is technically the Princess of Wales, she chooses not to use this title out of respect for Charles’ first wife Diana. One version of Camilla’s full title is ‘Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order’. Another says it is ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles, Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland’.
12. Camilla’s first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, dated Prince Charles’ sister, Princess Anne, in the early 1970s. He married Camilla in 1973, and their children attended grand schools: Tom went to Eton, and Laura to St. Mary’s, Shaftesbury. Both children were raised Roman Catholic. Andrew was a player on Prince Charles’ polo team in the 1970s and 80s. A year after he and Camilla divorced in 1995 he married his mistress, Rosemary Pitman, who died of cancer aged 69 in 2010.
13. Alice Keppel, mistress of King Edward VII, the great-great-grandfather of Prince Charles, is the great-grandmother of Duchess Camilla. When Camilla first met Charles in the early 1970s, she is said to have reminded him of this, and then said “how about it?”
14. Charles and Camilla are ninth cousins once removed. Their shared ancestor is Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, who died in 1691. Charles is descended from the Duke’s eldest daughter, Camilla from a younger daughter.
15. Charles and Camilla have a holiday house in Transylvania. Charles can trace his ancestry back to a connection with Dracula. His great-grandmother, Prince Mary, was related to the half-brother of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula.
Doug Aiton is a newspaper journalist and radio broadcaster. He has worked for The London Times, The Age, ABC Radio and 3AW.