Prince Charles’ 70th Birthday: Look Back at His Biggest Moments as a Royal!
By Rachel McRady
Happy birthday, His Royal Highness!
After months of celebrations, garden parties, and special tributes, Wednesday marks Prince Charles’ official 70th birthday. The nature-loving Prince of Wales might be celebrating with a low-key private party at Buckingham Palace this evening, but that won’t stop ET from taking a trip down memory lane to relive his best moments!
The longtime conservationist and activist has been heir to the throne since his birth in 1948, and he’s held the position with pride, leaving behind him a long legacy. He will eventually replace his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on the throne, and has made the most out of his position from youth to present day.
Here's a look at the prince's most memorable moments:
1953: A then 4-year-old Prince Charles attended the coronation of his mother at Westminster Abbey. The little royal was too young to comprehend that one day he too would take on the responsibilities of the throne.
1969: Prince Charles was officially crowned by Queen Elizabeth in a televised investiture ceremony almost a decade after his official title of Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester had been bestowed upon him.
1970: Prince Charles became the first heir to graduate from university with a degree when he completed school at Trinity College at Cambridge. He later returned to Cambridge to receive his Master of Arts.
1971: Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, Charles first served in the Royal Air Force and then the Royal Navy. Though he spent more than five years in these roles, Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, recently said in the BBC One documentary, Prince, Son & Heir: Charles at 70, that they don’t believe their father was shaped by his military days.
1976: Charles founded The Prince’s Trust, and U.K charity to help young people figure out their career paths. It has been cited as one of his proudest achievements. It was the first of 16 charity organizations founded by Charles, which are now known as The Prince’s Charities.
1977: A young, eligible bachelor, Prince Charles first met Princess Diana while he was dating her older sister, Sarah, and Diana was still a teenager.
1981: After months of courtship, Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana Spencer. They were married in July of that year at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, when she had just turned 20 years old. He was 32 at the time.
1982: Just a year after the highly publicized royal wedding, Prince William was born.
1984: Two years after that, the couple welcomed Prince Harry. This marked the couple’s last year they were seen as happy by the public before their impending separation and later divorce.
1990: Charles launched his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, which sells sustainably produced products.
1992: The official separation was of Charles and Diana was announced in Parliament. The public split came after years of speculation about the nature of Charles’ relationship with his longtime friend, Camilla Parker Bowles.
1994: Prince Charles confirms his affair with Camilla in a televised interview. He said that the pair had rekindled their romance in 1986, claiming it came after his marriage to Diana had broken down.
1996: Charles and Diana officially divorced and the Princess of Wales was stripped of her official royal titles.
1997: Prince Charles met the girl group sensation the Spice Girls,who at the time were just starting to take over the world with girl power. He posed with the five singers at the 21st Anniversary of the Prince’s Trust, and Jennifer Aniston was also in attendance. Charles went on to attend several events with the girl group, even making a brief cameo in the 1997 film, Spice World.
1997: Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. Prince Charles visited the city to retrieve her body and later stood by his sons’ sides at her very public funeral in London.
2000: Charles appeared in a live episode of the popular British show Coronation Street for the program’s 40th anniversary.
2005: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles married in a civil wedding ceremony in Windsor, England. The couple kept the festivities private and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip did not attend.
2010: The Prince’s Charities Canada was established, following in the tradition of Charles’ U.K. trust.
2015: Charles and Camilla made a historic visit to the Republic of Ireland after decades of conflict between the English and Irish. Ahead of the visit, two Irish republicans were arrested for planning a bomb attack. Charles’ son, Prince Harry, and then-fiancee, Meghan Markle, made a similar trip earlier this year.
2018: Queen Elizabeth announced in April that her son would succeed her as the head of the Commonwealth, a title that wasn’t hereditary and therefore not guaranteed. This puts Charles at the head of the 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth.
2018: After Meghan's own father, Thomas Markle, was unable to attend the royal wedding in May, the former actress and Harry asked Charles if he would walk the future Duchess of Sussex down the aisle. He happily obliged, thus sharing a touching moment with his future daughter-in-law.