FINALLY, it is all about Charles.
On Coronation Day this Saturday, the pomp and pageantry – and the love – will be for him.
It’s something he did not get even on his first wedding day, when 750million people tuned in across the world . . . and kept their eyes firmly on his bride. But few people have done as much good from the sidelines as our new King.
It has been a remarkable life, of putting duty first and a game smile on his face even in the midst of unhappiness, scorn and tragedy.
Today, in this special Sun souvenir Coronation supplement, we look back at every year of that life – and the moments that have made him the King he is today.
From the little boy born to a Queen who loved The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, to the man whose royal destiny has finally been fulfilled.
CHARLES was born in Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm on November 14 and two hours later his mother’s private secretary called him “just a Plasticine head”.
The then Princess Elizabeth, 22, was more flattering. She wrote to a friend that her son’s hands were “fine with long fingers – quite unlike mine and certainly unlike his father’s”.
When the birth was announced, Westminster Abbey’s bells rang, gun salutes were fired and the Trafalgar Square fountains were lit blue for a boy.
A month later, on December 14, photographer Cecil Beaton took the first official photos of the tiny Prince.
He wrote later: “He interrupted a long, contented sleep to do my bidding and open his blue eyes to stare long and wonderingly into the camera lens, the beginning of a lifetime in the glare of public duty.”
WHEN Charles and his parents moved out of Buckingham Palace and into their own home, Clarence House, in early July, a golden time began for the young family.
In October, for his first birthday portrait, the Prince posed for children’s snapper Marcus Adams, who took pictures of him alone and standing on his mother’s knee laughing, his hair in an accidental quiff.
The pictures were so charming that last month they were put out on social media by the Palace to mark Mother’s Day.
Weeks after the photo session, Charles’s first birthday was celebrated with a “small tea party” at Clarence House.
The National Association of Master Bakers made him a 40lb fruit cake for the event.
Its icing had motifs of teddy bears, clowns and sea lions and the recipe was printed in newspapers.
CHARLES became a big brother on August 15, when Princess Anne was born.
Days later, proud mum Elizabeth wrote: “Her brother seems very fascinated by her and treats her with great care.”
In September, Cecil Beaton took a photograph of the Prince leaning over Anne’s cot to kiss her.
The photographer wrote in his diary: “It reminded me of the great moment in The Sleeping Beauty.”
WHEN Charles turned three, he sat with grandad George VI on a sofa for a photo session that became his only memory of the King.
A 1969 souvenir brochure written for Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales said: “He vaguely recalls sitting with George VI to be photo-graphed on his third birthday.”
Newspapers explained that in the photo, Charles had been telling the King about his birthday gifts.
Other snaps from the November 14 shoot showed the future Queen Mum holding Princess Anne.
The young royals’ parents were on a five-week trip to Canada at the time so the children were staying with their grandparents.
On November 17, Charles went to greet his mother at London’s Euston Station on her return – and an urban myth was born, that Elizabeth greeted her son with nothing but a formal handshake.
In fact, she squidged his nose, kissed him and then had a chat.
Earlier in the year the then Princess Elizabeth had been just as attentive at what is believed to be Charles’s first appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
It was June 7 and she pointed to get her son to look up at the RAF flypast instead of at the crowd.
ON February 6, Charles became heir to the throne when his grand- father King George VI died aged 56.
In September, photographer Lisa Sheridan took strikingly casual photos of Charles playing at Balmoral with his mother Elizabeth.
They were very different to the formal royal portraits that had been released before that time.
THE Coronation of his mother on June 2 had little effect on the Prince – except that the Palace barber had stuck his hair down for the big day with “the most appalling gunge”.
Reporters in the Abbey wrote that the Prince, in his white silk suit with ruffles, watched with “eyes wide with wonder” – though at one point he let out a big yawn.
ON April 15, Charles and Anne set off on the Royal Yacht Britannia’s maiden voyage, to meet up with their parents in Libya after five months apart due to the royal couple’s Common-wealth tour.
After the reunion, the Queen wrote to her mother: “It is so wonderful to be with them again!” But she noted later that they “were terribly polite”, adding: “I don’t think they really knew who we were.”
ON June 9, future Navy pilot Charles flew in a plane for the first time, catching a Viking aircraft at RAF Dyce near Balmoral for the flight home to London with Anne.
Two months later the Royal Family had a holiday aboard the Britannia, up the west coast to Scotland, with stops at beaches en route.
One stop, at Lindsway near Milford Haven, saw the future Prince of Wales step on to Welsh soil for the first time.
THIS artful portrait shows Princess Anne with her older brother Charles – who was celebrating his eighth birthday.
The photographer was Antony Armstrong-Jones, who four years later married Princess Margaret, becoming the Earl of Snowdon – and Charles’s uncle.
In November 1956, the young Prince started as a day student at Hill House School in London’s Knightsbridge, becoming the first heir to the throne to go to school instead of being taught by a private tutor.
A newsreel of the school’s sports day showed the serious Prince introducing his parents to his classmates, who obediently bowed.
In December, Charles made his stage debut in Hill House School’s end of-year concert, performing with classmates in a “poem with actions”.
An audience member reported watching the Prince “whip on a pair of ski goggles and a green woolly knitted cap before skating off into the wings, his hands clutched professionally behind his back”.
Earlier that year, Man About Town magazine declared the young Charles the world’s best dressed man, beating unlikely rivals Fred Astaire, Yugoslavian dictator Marshal Tito and US evangelist Billy Graham.
CHARLES was enrolled as a boarder at Cheam School, Hampshire, in September – but he later admitted that his first few days there were the most miserable of his life.
Schoolmates teased him for his protruding ears, and also called the slightly pudgy Prince “Fatty”.
Princess Anne recalled: “He would write to [governess] Mispy every day.
“He was heartbroken. He used to cry into his letters and say, ‘I miss you’.”
Newspapers reported that the young royal slept on a battered 100-year-old wooden bed carved with the names of scores of its previous occupants.
The harrowing experience was a marked contrast to the carefree time he had just spent on a family holiday in Norfolk.
In a treasured family photo from the magical summer break, Charles and Anne were captured buried up to their necks in sand.
The snap was taken at Holkham Beach, along with a home video taken by the Queen of the children and the Duke of Edinburgh messing about.
Years later, Charles recalled: “It was always such fun . . . I remember that so well.”
CONSERVATION fan Charles and future TV legend David Attenborough met for the first time in January as Charles and Anne went to watch an episode of children’s BBC show Studio E being filmed at Lime Grove.
In July, Charles was watching a live television broadcast with classmates at Cheam School when his life changed.
During the opening of what was then the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, a message from his mother was broadcast: “I intend to create my son Charles, Prince of Wales today.”
Charles had no idea the announce-ment was coming. He later recalled: “For a little boy of nine it was rather bewildering.
All the others turned and looked at me in amazement.”
ON April 29, the ten-year-old Prince made his first official visit to a large warship, when his mother took him with her on a trip to inspect HMS Eagle in Weymouth, Dorset.
The ship took a short voyage into the Channel and the future Navy officer was allowed to take the wheel to steer it for one minute.
As a souvenir of the visit, Charles was given a model of a rum tub/barrel, which had been made aboard the ship.
ON February 19, 11-year-old Charles got a baby brother with the arrival of Prince Andrew.
Cecil Beaton was once again summoned to take photos, including one of Charles tenderly holding the little Prince.
The Queen wrote to a cousin: “The baby is adorable. Both the older children are completely riveted by him . . . he’s going to be terribly spoilt by all of us, I’m sure.”
Last year the Queen stripped Andrew of his HRH title after he was caught up in a sex scandal.
CHARLES was never as horse-mad as his mother or sister, but on the Queen’s 35th birthday in April he spent the day with her at the Badminton Horse Trials.
During the year, he also bonded more closely with his father over another horse-related activity, polo. He later said the sport seemed more attractive than hunting, as it meant he didn’t have to jump horses over fences.
In November, in his final year at Cheam, Charles discovered a passion for acting, taking the lead role as Richard III in the annual school play.
CHARLES put on a brave face for the cameras on May 1 when he began what he later called a “prison sentence” – attending Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland.
Prince Philip had loved his own time there, and insisted that its rugged ways would be just what was needed to toughen up his sensitive son.
But senior pupils took any chance to sneer at the shy Prince, and any students who tried to befriend the young royal were greeted with “slurping” noises.
Charles would later refer to the school as “Colditz in kilts”.
IN the spring, the Prince visited the set of Carry On Cabby, which was largely filmed in and around Windsor, and was snapped smiling at star Sid James, who played taxi driver Charlie Hawkins.
In January, 14-year-old Charles went on his first Swiss ski holiday, igniting a life-long passion for the country’s slopes. By the end of that first stay, he had passed his bronze level of skiing skill.
In June, during Charles’s second year at Gordonstoun school, he visited a pub on the Isle of Lewis with other boys.
He asked for a cherry brandy, “the first drink that came into my head”. But after news-papers reported his under-age drinking. he said: “The world exploded around my ears.”
The Prince also started cello lessons, after the Queen Mother took him to a concert.
He recalled decades later: “It had such a rich, deep sound. I’d never heard sounds like it.”
PRINCE Edward was 13 months old when his parents and siblings gathered for this snap at Frogmore House in Windsor.
At the time of the birth, 15-year-old Charles was ill in hospital with pneumonia after a Gordonstoun camping trip.
His mother wrote to a friend: “Charles, I’m thankful to say, is better but very frail as yet.”
Finally, a shaft of light arrived into the grimness of Charles’s life at Gordonstoun when new English teacher Eric Anderson introduced him to one of the great loves of his life – Shakespeare.
The Prince complained that previously “we just ground our way through” the plays.
But the classes with genial Anderson – later awarded a knighthood – were Charles’s happiest time at the school.
CHARLES wore a fake beard to make his Shakespearian debut in November in the title role for a school production of Macbeth.
His English teacher later recalled the Prince playing the character as “a sensitive soul who is behaving in a way that is really uncharacteristic of him because of other forces”.
For once, the Queen and Prince Philip attended a performance, and Charles was hugely excited about it.
But he later wrote that during his death scene, “All I could hear was my father and, ‘Ha, ha, ha’.” After the show, the gutted teen asked the Duke: “Why did you laugh?” Philip replied: “It sounds like The Goons.”
WHEN he was sent to the Australian bush for two school terms lasting six months, Charles found snakes, bull ants, spiders – and happiness.
Back on a visit years later, he said: “Part of my own education took place here in Australia. Quite frankly, it was by far the best part.”
When 17-year-old Charles arrived at Timbertop, the wilderness branch of Geelong Grammar, he loved that he was treated like anyone else.
While there, he also did his first official solo engagements in front of crowds, which boosted his confidence when talking to people.
When he left, his friends at the school gave him a rousing, “Three cheers for Prince Charles – a real Pommy bastard!”
TINY stamp-sized mugshots were taken of all new students at Cambridge University’s Trinity College, and “Wales HRH, The Prince of” was no exception.
A crowd of 1,000 watched on October 9 as he arrived at the college, the first heir to the throne to get a university education. Newspapers reported that while he tidied his own room, there was a “bedder” to make his bed.
He studied history, anthropology and archae-ology, and went about on a bicycle.
Years later, on a visit to a nearby museum, Charles revealed he had once come a cropper while riding past the building as a student.
He said: “Quite how I survived being run over by a bus when I was on a bicycle I don’t know.”
IN March, Charles made his first public appearance as a musician, playing cello at a concert in Cambridge put on by the Trinity College Musical Society.
The Prince later took flying lessons after getting reluctant permission from the Queen, who admitted to feeling “quite anxious” about the plan.
He had his first session on July 30 during his summer holidays, taking the controls of a red two-seat Chipmunk single-engined trainer at the RAF airfield in Tangmere, West Sussex.
He was instantly smitten, and had more lessons before continuing his training with the Cambridge University Air Squadron.
On November 14, the Prince turned 20 and for the occasion new official photos were released, taken by Cecil Beaton at Buckingham Palace. Beaton admired the royal, thinking him “sensitive and responsive to the arts”.
And Charles had his first romance this year, with Chilean ambassador’s daughter Lucia Santa Cruz, who was doing research at Cambridge.
The master of Trinity College is said to have slipped her a key to a private lodge so she could spend time with the Prince.
It was Lucia who would introduce Charles to his future love, Camilla Parker Bowles.
CHARLES showed he was game for some improvisation at his investiture as Prince of Wales – by wearing a coronet topped with a ping-pong ball.
The headwear placed on him by the Queen had to be newly created for the ceremony, as the coronet worn by previous princes of Wales had never been given back by the exiled Edward VIII.
Eager to lower the costs for the event on July 1 at Caernarfon Castle, they topped the new crown with a table tennis ball dipped in gold.
Charles later said the three-hour event, watched by 500million people globally, was the biggest ordeal of his life up to that point.
But he had prepared himself, spending a term at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth to study Welsh history and language.
His presence upset nationalists and he later recalled: “I went to lectures and most days there seemed to be a demonstration going on against me.”
But three weeks before the investiture, he was able to give a public speech in near-perfect Welsh, which was greeted by loud cheers.
For his 21st birthday on November 14, the Queen gave her son a blue Aston Martin DB6 Volante convertible.
He has cherished it ever since, but the eco-friendly royal later converted it to run on bioethanol.
CHARLES accepted an invitation from Richard Nixon to stay at the White House in July – but was stunned to realise the US President wanted to set him up with his daughter.
In 2021, he told CNN: “That was quite amusing, I must say. That was the time when they were trying to marry me off to Tricia Nixon.”
Charles politely agreed to take Tricia, 24, to baseball games and supper at Camp David. But years later he ungallantly admitted he’d found her “artificial and plastic”.
Earlier, in February, Charles became a pioneering campaigner against plastic waste, saying in a speech: “When you think that each person produces roughly two pounds of rubbish per day and there are 55million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow.”
Fifty years later, the Prince recalled of the reaction to his speech: “I was considered rather dotty, to say the least, for even suggesting these things.”
On June 23, it was announced that the Prince had graduated from Cambridge with a 2:2 degree with honours.
ON a summer’s day in June, Charles’s ex-lover Lucia Santa Cruz rang to say she had found “just the girl” for him.
Camilla Shand, a former Army officer’s daughter who lived in the same block as her, had “sympathy, warmth and natural character”.
There was an instant attraction between Charles and Camilla. She was in love with Army Major Andrew Parker Bowles but Lucia thought her friend needed to move on. Charles and Camilla began calling and meeting up.
On September 16, the Prince joined the Navy, despite his passion for the RAF, as an Acting Sub-Lieutenant.
AS love flourished between Charles and Camilla, they were first pictured together at a polo match.
Camilla’s boyfriend Andrew Parker Bowles was posted abroad with the Army for much of the year, giving the pair space to develop the romance that would last a lifetime.
Their favourite haunt for their moments together was Broadlands, the Hampshire estate owned by Lord Mountbatten, where Charles’s parents had spent part of their honeymoon.
Happy in his personal life, Charles continued in his Navy career, and on November 12 the Prince laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the first time.
CHARLES beamed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after his sister Anne’s wedding to Captain Mark Phillips on November 14 – the Prince’s 25th birthday. But his own love story had come crashing down.
His relationship with Camilla had been put on hold when he was posted to the Caribbean with the Navy for eight months, leaving on February 12.
At their last meeting, Charles told Camilla he loved her, but offered no solid commitment. The following month she announced that, after a rocky six-year relationship, Andrew Parker Bowles had proposed and she had accepted.
Heartbroken Charles wrote in a letter at the time that it seemed cruel that “such a blissful, peaceful and mutually happy relationship” had been destined to be so short.
He also wrote to Lord Mountbatten, saying: “I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually.”
A week before the wedding, he wrote to Camilla begging her to rethink. But the ceremony went ahead on July 4.
LOOKING awestruck, Charles met his favourite singer, Barbra Streisand, at a recording studio in Los Angeles on April 19.
The two became friends and Barbra later joked: “If I played my cards right, I would have wound up being the first Jewish princess.”
Earlier in the year, the moping Prince had in fact received some blunt advice from Lord Mountbatten on Valentine’s Day.
His great-uncle wrote: “In a case like yours, the man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down.
“But for a wife, he should choose a suitable, attractive and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for.”
Instead of taking up Mountbatten’s advice, the Prince seems to have thrown his energies into work.
In September, he was back in the air, starting a three-month helicopter course at Yeovilton Royal Navy Air Station in Somerset.
He later recalled that he “loved every minute” of the training, and had found it even more exciting than flying planes.
He explained: “In this case one does all sorts of things – commando-flying, rocket-firing and landing on carriers and the back end of ships in gales. I found the course easier, and got the knack more quickly, than I had thought.”
In October, the Queen sent Charles to represent her in Fiji, to mark the centenary of the islands’ UK ties.
He said he had been “filled with joy” by his mother’s trust in him to take on the job.
AN action-man year for Charles began with him undergoing the Royal Marines assault course in January.
He told a newspaper that as a Navy helicopter pilot he often had to carry Marines and “it’s a good idea to find out what Marines have to put up with”.
He added: “So I went down to the Marines assault course in Devon. And to what they call a Tarzan course. I survived it and came out knees trembling.”
ON February 9, Charles took command of his first ship, the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington.
In doing so, he became the first royal to hold a command in the Royal Navy since his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1950.
By all accounts, the Prince was greatly respected as a commanding officer, but his time in the service only lasted until the end of 1976.
At that point, it was felt it was time for the 28-year-old to take on more royal duties.
Charles used his Navy severance pay – £7,400 – to establish his charity The Prince’s Trust, helping disadvantaged youth. It flourished and has since supported more than 950,000 young people.
CHARLES met Lady Diana Spencer for the first time in November when he went shooting at her family home of Althorp, Northants.
She was 16, and the Prince, 28, had been dating her older sister Sarah, right, since the summer.
Charles later recalled he was struck by “what fun Diana was”.
But she told biographer Andrew Morton her first reaction: “God, what a sad man. My sister was over him like a bad rash and I thought, ‘God, he must hate that’. I kept out of the way.”
CHARLES and Camilla had stayed close – him opening up to her about his struggle to find a role and she agonising about her husband Andrew’s cheating.
This year, they became lovers again. In November, at a Buckingham Palace ball for Charles’s 30th birthday, they danced with an intensity one guest called “electric”.
Charles also found some intensity on stage with The Three Degrees, who sang at the event.
And in April, he further boosted his military credentials by completing the Paras’ parachute training course at RAF Brize Norton.
THE Prince, alone with his thoughts, walks back from St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham on a snowy Sunday in January.
The photo was taken by The Sun’s Arthur Edwards, who says: “He’s always been a very spiritual man.”
Two months later, Charles’s status as the world’s most eligible bachelor was confirmed when a woman in a bikini ambushed him in the Australian surf and gave him a cheeky kiss.
Years after the famous moment in Perth, model Jane Priest revealed that the surprised Prince had told her: “Oh, I can’t touch you!”
Charles was on a fishing holiday in Iceland in August when he received the news that his great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who he called “the wisest of counsel”, had been killed by an IRA bomb.
Charles wrote in his diary of his “agony, disbelief, a kind of wretched numbness, closely followed by fierce and violent determination to see that something was done about the IRA”.
CHARLES wore a dodgy disguise on a trip to Klosters in January but it didn’t fool the press pack at the Swiss ski resort.
Arthur Edwards, The Sun’s royal photographer, said: “They bought masks and comic noses, and he posed for a picture with us.”
In July, Charles met Diana Spencer again, at a party in Petworth, West Sussex.
Two weeks later, he took her for a sailing week-end to the Isle of Wight, on the Royal Yacht Britannia, and in November she went to Balmoral to meet his family – noting that Camilla was there too.
In July, the Duchy of Cornwall bought the Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire where Charles would become an early adopter of organic farming.
On October 15, the Prince’s first book came out. Proceeds from his children’s story, The Old Man Of Lochnagar, went to charity.
CHARLES announced his engagement to Diana on February 24, and looked serene in a portrait by Lord Snowdon at Highgrove – the opposite of what was to come.
In a joint interview, the Prince said he had proposed at Windsor Castle on February 3, but had not wanted to go public immediately.
He explained: “I wanted to give her a chance to think about it – to think if it was all going to be too awful.”
Years later, he revealed he had felt forced into proposing when his father gave him an ultimatum – to marry the 19-year-old, “pleasing both his family and the country”, or to call time on the relationship.
Charles also admitted he had entered the marriage in “a confused and anxious state”.
But the engaged couple threw themselves into duties, and Diana looked excited as they arrived at their first official joint engagement at London’s Goldsmith’s Hall on March 9.
Their “fairytale wedding” at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981, was watched by a global TV audience of 750million.
Afterwards, they became the first newlyweds to kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, establishing a new royal tradition.
WHEN son William was born on June 21, the overjoyed dad wrote to a friend: “I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am.”
Charles added: “He really does look surprisingly appetising and has sausage fingers just like mine.”
The diligent Prince had eagerly read a book called The Expectant Father and consulted with a childbirth guru about how best to support his wife.
He emerged from St Mary’s Hospital in North West London after watching the birth, telling crowds that the baby Prince had “a wisp of fair hair, sort of blondish, and blue eyes.”
CHARLES had been left at home as a young child when his parents went on tour, but he made sure Prince William did not suffer the same fate.
The youngster joined his parents on a big trip to Australia and New Zealand in March and April.
Like his mother, Prince Charles is a huge supporter of the Commonwealth and once explained: “One of the most important roles is to visit and be seen in as many countries as possible.”
At Uluru – formerly Ayers Rock – in Australia, he relaxed in his safari suit, while Diana appeared uneasy in a dainty dress and shoes not suitable for walking.
But on March 28, at a Sydney ball, the pair melted hearts by dancing to Chris Montez’s 1966 hit The More I See You.
And during the couple’s time in New Zealand in April, Charles was snapped laughing as he stood next to a local man wearing a T-shirt that said: “I’m with Stupid”.
At the end of what was seen as a hugely successful trip, Diana wrote to the Queen Mother: “Charles is the one who deserves all the credit, by showing me what to do.”
CROWDS greeted Charles with cheers when he emerged from St Mary’s Hospital after the birth of Prince Harry on September 15.
He told them his new son was “marvellous”, with “pale blue eyes” and hair of “a sort of indeterminate colour”.
The Prince then announced: “I’m going home to have a stiff drink.”
After a christening in Dec-ember, the proud parents posed with Harry for a portrait by Lord Snowdon.
Diana later recalled that their marriage fell apart after their new son’s arrival.
She said: “The whole thing went down the drain.”
Earlier, in May, the Prince launched his memorable attack on the proposed extension to the National Gallery in London, calling the design “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”.
The blueprint was soon scrapped.
EVEN though he was no fan of rock music, Charles was a huge supporter of charity concert Live Aid.
He and Diana were at Wembley Stadium on July 13 to watch the first two hours of the star-studded event in aid of African famine victims.
And the Prince enjoyed chatting with joint organiser Bob Geldof in the royal box so much that he invited him to Buckingham Palace a few days later.
The Boomtown Rats singer later revealed that Charles picked classical pieces by Bach and Handel for them to listen to that night.
The royal also gave an undisclosed sum to the appeal, which ended up raising about £150million.
Charles and scruffy star Bob have remained friends – although on one of Geldof’s early visits to the Palace, a young Prince William said of the singer: “He’s all dirty.”
Bob responded: “Shut up, you horrible little boy.”
HOLDING William and Harry, Charles and Diana posed in the flower meadow at Highgrove in July.
Two months later, the Prince told a documentary how he chats to plants at his home.
He said: “They respond, I find.”
IN public, Charles and Diana usually hid problems with their marriage – but the Prince could not hold back when she sat on the bonnet of his Aston Martin.
At a Windsor polo match in June, he snapped: “Off, off! What are you doing to my wonderful car?”
Diana slid off, laughing, as her husband checked for damage.
Three months earlier, on a solo tour of Africa, he saw a sign in Malawi reading: “Where is Di?”
He sought peace of mind by camping with his spiritual guru Laurens van der Post in the Kalahari Desert, marvelling at a herd of 20,000 zebras.
THE day after a skiing accident in March, a devastated Charles, Diana and the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson arrived back in the UK with the body of their friend, Major Hugh Lindsay.
The Prince had missed being killed by just feet when an avalanche thundered past him, sweeping his 34-year-old friend to his death.
Charles later described hearing a “tremendous roaring” and looking up to see “the whole mountain apparently exploding outwards”.
Another friend, Patti Palmer-Tomkinson, was seriously injured in the accident at Klosters, Switzerland.
Desperate Charles helped claw Patti out of 12ft of snow, and was seen sobbing as he and the rest of the group were winched to safety by a helicopter.
THE warring Waleses could still dazzle – and did so on a trip to Hong Kong in November.
They even managed to share a smile as they left the city’s new concert hall, having watched London’s Bach Choir perform.
Diana wore her “Elvis dress” – a gown created for her by London-based designer Catherine Walker featuring 20,000 pearls.
It was the last royal visit to Hong Kong before Charles returned to attend the handover of the territory back to China in 1997.
Diana was by now well aware of Charles’s affair with Camilla, and had even confronted her rival at a party in February.
The Princess later recalled telling Camilla: “I do know what’s going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.’”
AFTER breaking his arm badly at a polo match in June, Charles spent three days at an NHS hospital in Cirencester, Gloucs. He left, accompanied by Diana, with his arm in a sling.
Charles, who joked he was “prematurely decrepit”, wore a cast for two months – and had further surgery to avoid being “so crippled that he would be unable to salute”.
In July, he launched The Highgrove – a brown loaf which led to him creating his Duchy Originals brand.
CHARLES and Diana set off on their “second honeymoon” in August, sailing around Italy with their sons and friends.
But away from the cameras, Diana was already recording her marriage misery in interviews for a bombshell biography by Andrew Morton.
After their trip, the family headed to Balmoral to join other royals for their traditional summer holiday, with Charles flying the plane there himself.
In September, a survey found that only eight per cent of people believed there was still “magic” in the royal marriage.
In December, the Prince provoked a media storm by taking seven-year-old Harry to hunt hares in Norfolk.
THIS was the Queen’s Annus Horribilis, and a shocker for Charles too.
On a joint trip to India in February, Diana visited the Taj Mahal alone while Charles met business leaders.
She told reporters that seeing the monument to love had been “very healing”.
Asked what she meant, she replied: “Work that out for yourself.”
A few days later at a polo match in Jaipur, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, Charles tried to kiss his wife’s cheek but she snubbed him, turning so the kiss landed near her ear, top left.
On June 7, the first extracts from Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story, were published, detailing the agony of her marriage, her suicide attempts and Charles’s affair with Camilla.
In early November, the royal couple went ahead with a tour to South Korea but looked so dismal, they were dubbed The Glums.
Sun royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who was on the trip, later recalled: “You knew it was all over then because they couldn’t bear to be in each other’s company. It was miserable.”
When they got back home, things got even worse when the first details of the so-called Camillagate Tapes were published on November 13.
At the time, only a few lines of the phone recordings, made in 1989, were printed, but they confirmed Charles’s affair with his old flame.
On December 9, Prime Minister John Major told the House of Commons: “It is announced from Buckingham Palace that, with regret, the Prince and Princess of Wales have decided to separate.”
ON Valentine’s Day, Charles celebrated his new freedom by flying to Mexico for a visit, with an itinerary packed with his favourite things.
In his trusty safari suit, the solo Prince toured ancient ruins, spoke about the environment and inspected cactus plants through a magnifying glass.
But he had to duck questions about the transcript of the infamous “Tampongate” tape – a recording of a bedtime conversation between Charles and married Camilla – which was published just weeks earlier after a radio enthusiast stumbled upon the chat using a hi-tech scanning device.
It featured a series of cringe-inducing details, including Charles’s wish to “live inside your trousers” or come back as a Tampax.
In October, building began at Poundbury in Dorset – the new town Charles helped to plan in line with his long-cherished architectural principles.
Its old-fashioned look, and its design around people rather than cars, initially drew sneers from critics.
But by the time it is finished in 2025, it will be home to 6,000 people.
CHARLES’S good works were meant to be the focus of an ITV documentary on June 29 but all anyone recalled of it was his confession of adultery.
Jonathan Dimbleby asked: “Did you try to be faithful to your wife?
The Prince said: “Yes . . . ” then after an anguished pause added, “ . . . until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
Andrew Parker Bowles asked for a divorce from Camilla, which was finalised in early 1995.
In October, a Dimbleby biography of Charles revealed his unhappiness as a child. But the year could have been worse.
On June 29, he had a lucky escape when a plane he was piloting overshot the runway on the Hebridean isle of Islay and crashed into a ditch.
CHARLES was all smiles in June for an encounter with Sir Paul McCartney, who became a fellow of London’s Royal College of Music.
In August, the Prince looked relaxed with Diana and their sons watching VJ Day celebrations.
The next month, the couple accompanied William for his first day at Eton.
But in November, Diana’s bombshell interview with Panorama revealed her view of her marriage, which she claimed had been doomed from the start by Charles’s love for Camilla.
She famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
On December 21, Buckingham Palace announced the Queen had written to Charles and Diana, urging them to make their separation permanent by divorcing.
LEANING on walking sticks, Charles and his sons smiled for the camera and showed they were still a happy family.
Charles chose the photo, taken at Balmoral, as the image for the Christmas card he sent out to friends this year.
His divorce had been finalised on August 28, after a rocky few months.
Five months earlier, a Sun poll had found three quarters of readers believed the royal was not fit to be King.
CHARLES had been at Balmoral with sons William and Harry on August 31 when the phone call came at 3.15am with the news that Diana had died in a car accident in Paris.
A week later, the Prince cut a solemn figure alongside his boys as they walked behind the Princess’s coffin with her brother Charles Spencer and Prince Philip.
The day before, the Princes had viewed the thousands of bouquets and messages left at Kensington Palace after finally travelling to London from the royals’ Scottish residence.
On learning of Diana’s death, Charles told his private secretary Stephen Lamport: “They’re going to blame me aren’t they?
“The world’s going to go completely mad, isn’t it? We’re going to see a reaction we’ve never seen before. It could destroy the monarchy.”
Just after 6am, he went for a walk in the grounds to prepare himself to break the news to his still-sleeping sons.
Harry has since recalled in memoir Spare how his father had seemed “in shock” as he told him there had been an accident and said: “They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it.”
Days later, Charles had a furious showdown with his parents before convincing them to lower the flag above Buckingham Palace to half-mast.
A friend recalled: “He stood up to them in a way he never has before.”
Charles had also gone against the Queen’s wishes by flying to Paris to accompany his ex-wife’s body as it was returned home.
ONCE again, Charles found peace through a spiritual escape.
In February, he spent four days trekking in the wilderness in Bhutan, South Asia, visiting Buddhist monasteries and sketching along the way.
On June 12, William, then 16, met Camilla for the first time after telling his father he wanted to get to know her.
To Charles’s delight, the meeting at St James’s Palace went well.
CAMILLA and Charles made their first official public appearance together as a couple just before midnight on January 28.
They stepped out of London’s Ritz hotel after a party for Camilla’s sister and were met by more than 100 photographers.
The snappers had been tipped off in advance as part of the carefully planned Project Camilla – designed to get the public to accept the relationship.
The following day, The Sun wrote: “She’ll never replace Diana. But many will think better of Camilla, having seen her courage last night.”
On March 15, Charles crouched happily among hundreds of penguins on a visit to Sea Lion Island in the Falklands.
The Prince joked: “It makes a change from talking to plants.”
THERE was a band of marching Wombles, the stars of Dad’s Army, five camels and two corgis.
But the best sight of the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday pageant, in London on July 19, was the joy on Charles’s face as he watched his grandmother’s delight.
He accompanied his grandmother to the celebration, featuring cultural icons of her lifetime, while the Queen stayed away in order not to take the focus off her.
CHARLES took 19-year-old son William with him to sign a book of condolence at the American consul-general’s office in Edinburgh after the attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center on September 11.
In May, Charles had become the first royal to design a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show.
He sketched the plan for his Carpet Garden inspired by two rugs at his Highgrove estate in Gloucester-shire. He later said: “I couldn’t help feeling what fun it would be to use those patterns and colours to create a theme for a garden. The challenge would be to see if you could create the effect of being within the carpet.”
It won a silver-gilt medal at Chelsea and was later rebuilt at Highgrove.
PRINCE Charles kept a vigil by the Queen Mother’s coffin while it was lying in state at Westminster Hall in London.
He was to do the same with his mother 20 years later.
The red-eyed prince was the first royal to address the nation after the death of the Queen Mother on March 30, aged 101.
He said on April 1: “Her departure has left an irreplaceable chasm in countless lives.
“But, thank God, we are all the richer for the sheer joy of her presence and everything she stood for.”
He added: “She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have and I was utterly devoted to her.”
WILLIAM turned 21 in June and a photo of him, Charles and the Queen was released to mark the occasion.
Meanwhile, Wills used his birthday to praise his dad in a TV interview, saying: “He does so many amazing things. I only wish people would see that more, because he’s had a very hard time and yet he’s stuck it out and he’s still very positive.”
Charles helped organise a party at Windsor Castle, which at William’s request had an Out Of Africa theme.
Decorations included full-size elephants made of palm husks, and a giant ice vodka luge in the shape of an elephant’s head.
In May, Charles and Camilla finally moved in together at Clarence House where he had spent many happy times as a child.
After Charles and his parents moved to Buckingham Palace in 1952, the royal residence became the Queen Mother’s home.
When he oversaw renovations ahead of moving in with Camilla, Charles put portraits and photos of his beloved grandmother in pride of place.
A STUNNING holographic portrait of the Queen was switched on by Charles in Jersey in June to mark 800 years of the island’s allegiance to the Crown.
The work, Equanimity, was built using 10,000 images and 3D data by artist Chris Levine.
Another version, later given to the National Portrait Gallery by the people of Jersey, was called “the defining image of Queen Elizabeth’s reign”.
Four months earlier, Charles and Camilla announced their engagement.
Her diamond ring was once owned by the Queen Mother, who was given it after the birth of the Queen.
CHARLES and Camilla tied the knot at a civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall on April 9.
They had announced their engagement on February 10 and the months leading up to the ceremony had been anxious ones.
Nobody knew what the reaction of the crowds would be on their big day, and a courtier later admitted: “It was high stakes.”
But the crowd cheered, and by the time the newlyweds got back to Windsor Castle, they were both in tears of happiness.
It was the same day as the Grand National and later, at the reception, the horse-mad Queen announced she was delighted to be welcoming her son and his new bride to the “winner’s enclosure”.
Then, referring to some of the race-track’s features, Her Majesty declared exuberantly: “They have overcome Becher’s Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I’m very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves.”
Days before the wedding, Charles and his sons held a photocall in Klosters, to show the young princes had given their blessing.
Instead, all the headlines focused on mutterings by Charles about BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, that were caught on microphone.
The Prince fumed: “I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful”.
In November, Charles and Camilla went to the US on their first official joint overseas tour.
WALKING along a rocky path in matching straw hats in Siwa, Egypt, Charles and Camilla linked arms as the Prince joked: “We look like Darby and Joan.”
Their 12-day tour in March also took them to Saudi Arabia and India, where on a visit to an organic smallholding, Charles said: “I’m a farmer at heart.”
The same month, just ahead of the couple’s first wedding anniversary, a poll found support for Camilla to become Queen had doubled in the year since their marriage.
Meanwhile, Charles managed to have a demure reunion with two of the Spice Girls at a Palace garden party on July 14.
He pecked Geri Halliwell and Emma Bunton on the cheek, this time without getting his bum patted.
CHARLES was at his sons’ side for the Service of Thanksgiving they had organised for their mother on August 31.
And he watched proudly as Prince Harry spoke at the service on the tenth anniversary of Diana’s death, calling her “quite simply the best mother in the world.”
He also said: “She never once allowed her unfaltering love for us to go unspoken or undemonstrated.”
Fifteen years after this, Harry revealed in his memoir, Spare, that his father had a very different way of showing love to them.
He wrote: “On occasion, after a long multi-course dinner, I’d find a letter on my pillow.
“It would say how proud he was of me for something I’d done or accomplished. I’d wonder why he hadn’t said this moments ago, while seated across from me.”
Charles was more demonstrative when Camilla turned 60 on July 17.
The hopeless romantic arranged for the Philharmonia Orchestra to play Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll in a private performance.
The German composer had written the piece in 1870 for his own wife’s birthday.
CHARLES helped launch The Sun’s first Military Awards – dubbed the Millies – in September, saying: “I’m delighted and proud to lend my support.”
He added: “When my youngest son went to Afghanistan, I understood only too well what it was like for those many families with loved ones serving abroad in often difficult and highly dangerous environments.
“I hope The Sun Military Awards will allow us all to celebrate the excellence and extraordinary qualities of the men and women who so diligently and enthusiastically serve our country.”
Three months later, he and Camilla were at Hampton Court Palace to salute the award winners and hand out the Millies. The honours became an annual event.
He said: “This evening has given us the opportunity to meet the best of the best, the bravest of the brave.”
On November 14, Charles turned 60, becoming the first Prince of Wales to get to the big birthday – all his predecessors had been crowned king by this point.
CHARLES travelled deep into the Amazon rainforest in March to witness the dramatic impact of deforestation.
The trip came days after he warned in a speech that “we only have 100 months to act on climate change”.
The environmentalist had addressed businessmen and politicians in Rio De Janeiro during a ten-day trip to South America to highlight “catastrophic” global warming.
But while in Brazil, he managed to find time for some fun and relaxation.
Charles showed off his dance moves, joining a samba dance with girls in sequin bikinis. One of the women told The Sun afterwards: “It was very tasty dancing with the Prince.”
Two months later, the Queen presented Charles with the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest honour, the Victoria Medal, for services to gardening.
The Sun’s late, great garden expert Peter Seabrook watched the presentation at Chelsea Flower Show and said: “He looked my way and pointed at it quite proudly.”
WEARING combat fatigues, a helmet and body armour, Charles flew into the heart of Taliban territory on a surprise visit to Afghanistan in March.
He insisted on going “outside the wire”, visiting front-line patrol bases in a Chinook helicopter during the risky two-day trip to Helmand Province.
Charles also spent a night at Camp Bastion, where he paid tribute to soldiers who had lost their lives, and recalled his fears for Prince Harry during his boy’s tour of duty in 2008.
He said: “I know when my youngest son was out here, as a parent you worry the whole time . . . for everybody left behind it’s ghastly.”
WHEN William married Kate Middleton on April 29, Charles gave a classic father-of-the-groom speech at the reception.
A guest later revealed: “He was taking the mickey out of Prince William, talking about him driving a toy car into a tree repeatedly.” He was also “gushing” about Kate.
The high esteem in which he held the pair was on show after the wedding, when he loaned them his Aston Martin sports car for a ride along The Mall.
Music buff Charles later revealed he had chosen some of the classical music played during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
He added: “I love trying to organise some interesting, I hope, pieces of music for certain occasions . . . particularly for weddings. My eldest son was quite understanding.”
On June 17, the Prince hosted a less formal affair – a reception for motorcyclists at Clarence House.
About 80 members of the Royal British Legion’s Riders Branch roared up to the bash on bikes, many in leathers adorned with their service medals.
Charles sat on a Yamaha Venture Star 1300. Biker Bill Haley said: “This was his way of saying thanks to us for the fundraising we have done.”
IT was supposed to be a Diamond Jubilee highlight, a golden barge in a 1,000-boat flotilla. But it turned into a bit of a disaster.
The Prince had pushed for the river procession, which saw the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and family members head down the Thames on an ornate gold-and-red barge.
But June 3 was the wettest, coldest June day in years and the elderly Queen and Prince Philip stood for the whole trip, drenched and frozen for hours.
The 90-year-old Duke ended up in hospital, forcing him to miss the Diamond Jubilee concert the next day.
During the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympics on July 27, Charles was as surprised as the rest of the world when his mother appeared in a James Bond skit.
Organiser Lord Coe, who was sitting next to the Prince, later recalled: “When the film cut to the shot of the royal back, he had exactly the same reaction as everyone else – which was to assume it was the lady who does the impersonations. But the moment she turned around and everyone realised, ‘My God, it really is the Queen’, he began roaring with laughter.”
ON January 24, Charles laughed off attempts by youngsters at London’s Oval Cricket Club to get him to pull a “street pose”.
He was visiting students on a development course run by his Prince’s Trust charity with Lambeth College.
He welcomed his first grandchild, George, pictured right after his christening, on July 22 and planted a wood in honour of William and Kate’s son on his Scottish estate, Birkhall.
A statement said: “My wife and I are overjoyed at the arrival of my first grandchild.”
He added: “Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me, so I am enormously proud to be a grandfather for the first time.” In 2018, he showed cameras around George’s Wood and said: “As I get older, all I really long for is to plant trees.”
On November 15, he and Camilla represented the Queen at a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Sri Lanka.
Earlier in the year, Buckingham Palace had said the then 87-year-old Queen was giving up long-haul flights.
It meant a new era, with Charles, now 65, stepping up.
DURING a visit to Mexico in November, Charles was snapped at the Mayan ruins of Edzna.
He was also seen twirling a handkerchief above his head as he joined performers for a traditional jig in Campeche.
One impressed local dancer said: “Even though he doesn’t know the steps, his dancing was really good.”
Earlier in the year, Charles caused a flap when he compared Russian leader Vladimir Putin to Hitler.
In an off-the-cuff remark in Canada in May, a few months after Russia had annexed Crimea, he said: “Now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.”
Some MPs denounced the Prince for getting involved in politics.
IN a historic moment of reconciliation, Charles shook hands with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
The meeting, in Galway on May 19, came the day before Charles visited Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where Lord Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, an act once justified by Adams.
May 2 saw the arrival of his first granddaughter, Princess Charlotte. A few days later, a chuffed Charles told reporters: “I was hoping for a girl!”
ON April 23, Charles made a surprise appearance on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company during a special televised performance marking 400 years since the Bard’s death.
The sketch featured actors including David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench debating how to deliver Hamlet’s famous line “To be or not to be . . . ”.
Then Charles, the RSC’s director, suddenly walked on stage and asked: “Might I have a word?” There was a dramatic pause before he slammed home the perfect delivery: “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
Two days earlier, Charles was with the Queen as she celebrated turning 90 at Windsor and lit the first in a chain of 1,000 beacons.
THE frail Queen watched from a balcony on November 12 as Charles laid a wreath at the Cenotaph on her behalf. It was the most visible sign to date of the shift of duties from monarch to heir.
Earlier in the year, thoughtful Charles made Sun royal photographer Arthur Edwards’s year when, after an audience with Pope Francis, he intro-duced our man to the Pontiff.
The Prince said of the devout Catholic snapper: “He is an important man. He has followed us for 40 years.”
During the royal’s Vatican visit on April 4, Francis gave him a sculpture of an olive branch and said: “May you be a man of peace.”
IN the absence of Meghan’s ailing father, Charles walked her down the aisle at her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19.
Harry later revealed: “I asked him to, and I think he knew it was coming, and he immediately said, ‘Yes, of course, I’ll do whatever Meghan needs, and I’m here to support you’. ”
The Duchess of Sussex said Charles had been “very charming”.
In a documentary to mark Charles’s 70th birthday on November 14, Camilla revealed what a doting grandfather Charles was.
She said of his time with the children: “He will get down on his knees and crawl about, making funny noises and laughing.”
CHARLES got the giggles as he watched grandson George trying to make Christmas puddings in aid of the Royal British Legion in December. The six-year-old went for a stabbing motion when tackling the mixture.
The Queen and Prince William also took part in the Legion’s Together at Christmas campaign.
Charles became a grandfather of four when Harry’s first child Archie was born on May 6. He said: “We couldn’t be more delighted at the news.”
Back in March, Charles and Camilla became the first British royals to visit Cuba. The Prince proved to be a natural at making mojitos at a Havana bar.
But the couple’s visit to New Zealand in November was overshadowed by Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview, broadcast the night before their arrival.
Charles was said to be “furious”. On November 20, Buckingham Palace said Andrew was suspending his public duties “for the forseeable future”.
WITH Britain in its fifth week of lockdown as we battled Covid, Charles and Camilla joined in the Clap For Carers on April 23.
This was their first appearance together since the Prince recovered from coronavirus.
In January, he had been reportedly “incandescent with rage” when Harry and Meghan blindsided the family by announcing they would be stepping back from royal life.
Harry later claimed in a TV interview that, in revenge, his father had “literally cut me off financially” in the first quarter of the year.
However, Clarence House produced accounts showing that, in fact, Charles continued to fund the Sussexes until the summer.
Yet the strain in the family was clear at Harry and Meghan’s final royal engagement on March 9, at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
The pair left for a new life in the US at the end of the month.
AFTER the Duke of Edinburgh died on April 9, two months before his 100th birthday, Charles paid tribute in an emotional video message.
He said: “My dear Papa was a very special person, who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction.”
He added: “My family and I miss my father enormously.”
A couple of months later, Charles revealed in a BBC documentary: “I was talking to him the day before he died. I said: ‘We’re talking about your birthday and whether there’s going to be a reception.’ And he said: ‘Well, I’ve got to be alive for it, haven’t I?’
“I said: ‘I knew you’d say that!’ Anyway, it’s a happy memory.”
On October 31, Charles addressed G20 world leaders in Rome ahead of COP26. He said of the climate- change summit: “It is the last-chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions.”
THE Queen died on September 8 and in his first speech as King, Charles spoke for millions when he paid tribute.
He said: “Thank you for your love and devotion to the family of nations you have served so diligently.”
Quoting Shakespeare, he heartbreakingly added: “And may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
The Queen had made her last appearance on June 5 for the Platinum Jubilee.
There were tears in her eyes when she stepped on to the Palace balcony.
Charles walked behind his mother’s coffin when she was laid to rest on September 19.
BERLIN’S Brandenburg Gate offered a dramatic backdrop on March 29 for Charles’s first overseas trip as King.
And perhaps the symbol of Germany’s reunification gave the new monarch hope for an end to the Cold War still raging within his family.
Harry had released memoir Spare on January 10, full of painful accusations.
Among the attacks, the Duke of Sussex’s claim that Camilla “sacrificed me on her personal PR altar” was especially agonising to Charles.
But it also contained heart-warming revelations about the King, such as his habit of calling Harry “my darling boy”.
On April 12, it was announced Harry would come to the Coronation, although Meghan would stay at home in California with their children.