In a statement issued shortly after the official announcement of her passing, Charles described the death of his “beloved” mother as “the greatest moment of sorrow for me and all members of my family”. The day ahead will be a time during which Charles will both assume his new duties and mourn a great personal loss.
Having been in the public eye for a lifetime, he is a familiar figure to many in the UK and around the world. But no one yet knows what kind of king King Charles III—the title he took, ending years of speculation—would become.
As CNN’s royal correspondent, I have reported on the new King of Britain for many years and have traveled the world with him.
It is the place that, for the new king, brings together all his great passions and causes – from music to the preservation of rare breeds, apprenticeships for underprivileged youth and organic farming. The entire property is buzzing with activity, and I could see how thrilled it gave him to walk around and ask his staff questions.
Every Friday night, wherever he happens to be in the world, a heavy report is sent to Charles to update him about the estate’s work and gets back to him with notes first Saturday morning. His wife Camilla will tell you that he stays up late every night to read, write, and respond to requests for support and advice.
Where many of his predecessors saw the role of the Prince of Wales as the ticket to a playboy lifestyle and a guaranteed income, Charles took it professionally and made it his own. He wanted an inheritance, but he didn’t want to wait until he was king. In my experience, he’s impatient and motivated, and gets incredibly frustrated if one of his projects isn’t working out or isn’t bearing fruit.
“There were signs from young adulthood,” Kenneth Dunsmuir told me during a visit to Dumfries House. Dunsmuir runs The Prince Foundation, an educational charity founded by Charles to help teach traditional arts and skills. “His concerns about social issues and ecological issues in the community were all there and what has happened is that he has become more and more involved and has the time to do so.”
Dunsmuir’s remarks point to another reason that Charles achieved so much during his tenure: he was the longest-serving Prince of Wales due to the longevity of his mother’s reign. Dunsmuir thinks of Dumfries House, he said, “as a splendid physical legacy to the work that will always be here and always will be.”
Charles has often struggled to control his passion for his work, expressing his hopes and fears during speeches over the years and often sounding more like a propagandist than a constitutional monarch-in-waiting. . This prompted accusations that he was a threat to the independence and impartiality of the monarchy. Take climate change, on which he has been speaking since 1968. Since then it has become a mainstream issue and political for some. Charles was a prominent supporter of the 2015 Paris climate accord and discussed the subject with Donald Trump over tea in December 2019, as the then-president prepared to pull the United States out of the accord.
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 those who have come back from the brink in time to restore the world? Didn’t do anything to bring balance. When could we? I don’t want to.”
Despite criticism – and sometimes ridicule – over his fight to be the royals’ eclectic warrior, Charles has remained a leader in green issues in recent years.
Charles was in his element at the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November 2021, where he urged countries to work with industries to address climate change.
“We know it will take trillions of dollars, not billions of dollars,” he said at the time. He said climate change and loss of biodiversity are a major threat and the world must go on a “war footing” to tackle them.
Charles has been vocal on a range of sensitive issues, from genetically modified crops to homeopathic medicines and architecture. This has made her a more divisive figure than her mother, who during her reign barely broke an expression, let alone expressed an opinion. Elizabeth’s great ability not to humiliate and alienate was more strategic than many realized, but Charles always insisted that he intended to follow her lead and stop interfering when he took the throne. .
In all the conversations I’ve had with family members and their allies, there has never been a talk of the more popular Prince William taking his father to the throne.
Charles has spent his entire life preparing to be sovereign and has undoubtedly proved that he is not shy to act. William meanwhile has never been in a hurry to take the crown, preferring to continually build his royal portfolio while focusing on his young family and developing his own set of interests and reasons.
Charles and William came together personally and professionally when Prince Harry stepped down from his royal duties in 2020, leaving the remaining senior royals a more compact group. The relationship between the new king and his successor will now be the key to the monarchy’s future stability, as will the dynamic between the new king and his wife.
I have seen the kind of support Camilla has always been for Charles. I’ve seen how clumsy and frustrated he can get when he faces an obstacle in his work, and he has an unparalleled talent for deflecting any tension with a sense of humor and charisma that isn’t on camera. Comes.
In 2015 I sat down with Charles at another of his residence in Scotland – Birkhall, Highlands. The couple had a 10th wedding anniversary before the US tour.
He told me, “It’s always wonderful to have someone you know, you understand and want to encourage. Although if I get too serious about things she definitely jokes.” And all that helps.”
After the interview, I accompanied her to a drawing room, where we were joined by Camilla as we waited for the cameras to be ready for some set-up shots. Camilla was asking how it was going and joking about our outfits, and he was immediately more at ease in her company. Her ability to stabilize a room has now become a national asset—and a symbol of stability—as the wife of the nation’s head of state.
With Camilla standing firmly by his side, Charles will now put his stamp on the monarchy. After decades of waiting, he is the head of state not only for the United Kingdom but also for 14 other countries including Canada and Australia. The eyes of the world are fixed on him as soon as he assumes the position of king.