Hubert Burda Media

Born To Be King

“Age is merely a number,” they say. But not for the UK’s longest-serving heir apparent who’ll take the throne at a landmark age. By Jolie Goh

A very happy 65th birthday to the resolute man, the heir to the British throne since 1952, the time-honoured Prince of Wales.
Well regarded in most quarters as humane and thoughtful, the indefatigable Prince was just twenty years ago embroiled in marital controversy. An affair with his then lover and current wife Camilla Shand and the unfortunate passing of his first wife Lady Diana had brought about unhappiness and dissenting calls for the Prince to give up his right to the throne.
Needless to say, he wasn’t the sort to buckle under scrutiny.
Instead, he raised his sons Princes William and Harry — from his first marriage — into fine, young men, became grandfather to baby George, and in the process won over the masses with his sincerity and humble disposition, albeit the slow passage of time.
The wait has been lengthy, but definitely not idle. Throughout the years, Prince Charles has assumed the role of a philanthropist, making the most out of his royal standing.
His founding of The Prince’s Charities — a group of non-profits active in areas such as the built environment, responsible business and enterprise and young people and education — has transformed countless of lives, raising colossal funds of more than £100 million annually.
The Prince’s Trust is one such purposeful body within The Prince’s Charities. Started in 1976, the trust aids underprivileged youths through financial grants, mentoring support, fund-raising concerts and enterprise programmes that encourage and help these young adults start decent businesses. It has to date created opportunities for over 750,000 people to turn their lives around.
With an interest in architecture and urban planning, Prince Charles has also zeroed in efforts on addressing and campaigning for sustainable designs and the preservation of historic establishments. The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community (formerly The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment) was, as such, created with the specific intent of driving home the message of sustainable urbanism.
The experimental urban village of Poundbury, the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and buildings in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, Haiti are but a few estates the foundation works with.
Interestingly, the modern royal is also an enthusiast of agronomy and organic farming, and is the founder of Duchy Originals, an organic food company synonymous with the Prince’s beloved oaten biscuits. Now managed by Waitrose and with its extended line of products from bacon and jam to beer and ciders, Duchy Originals has generated more than £11 million for charity over the last two decades.
An eco-devotee, the Prince is also known to keep tabs on his household’s carbon footprint and emissions — a laudable effort regardless the fact that he is the eldest son of the Head of the Commonwealth, and air travel is practically written into his job-scope.
The selfless deeds and start-ups governed by the 65-year-old can’t all be addressed in this one article. His Royal Highness is, in fact, patron or president of a staggering 400 good-doing organisations, which explains the lengthy list of honours bestowed upon him (more than 30, by our count). One of the more apposite, perhaps, was the Lifetime Achievement Award conferred last year at the International Green Awards which recognises individuals “with undying zeal to champion sustainability”.
Succeeding and representing the 87-year- old Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo this month, it is clear that Prince Charles is readier than ever — perhaps even more so than the late King Edward VII was when he waited to succeed Queen Victoria — for his turn as king.
When that happens, his time on the throne will be far shorter than that of his mother’s, but like her, his will be a reign of a passionate leader with much drive and dependability. As he told Time magazine in his recent cover-gracing interview: “I feel more than anything else it’s my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can.”