What can the world expect from King Charles III? | CNN (2024)

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By Max Foster, CNN

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Updated 2:16 PM EDT, Wed September 14, 2022

What can the world expect from King Charles III? | CNN (2)

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CNN reporter predicts what we'll see from King Charles

05:17 - Source: CNN

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Following the death of his mother, Elizabeth II, Charles has ascended to the British throne after more than 70 years as the heir apparent.

In a statement released shortly after the official announcement of her passing, Charles described the death of his “beloved” mother as “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.” The days since the Queen’s death have been a time during which Charles has both assumed his new duties and mourned a great personal loss.

After a lifetime in the public eye, he is a familiar figure to many in Britain and around the globe. But no one yet knows what kind of monarch King Charles III – the title he has taken, ending years of speculation – will become.

As CNN’s royal correspondent, I’ve reported on Britain’s new King for many years and traveled around the world with him.

One of the best insights I had was when I was invited with a group of other journalists to Dumfries House, his stately home near Glasgow in Scotland, in 2018 ahead of his 70th birthday. I spent two days there and was given unusual access to Charles and many of those closest to him. I was treated to tours of the estate, high tea, dinners and a spectacular bagpiping performance beside a roaring open fire.

This is the place that brings it all together for the new King, all his greatest passions and causes – from music to rare breeds protection, apprenticeships for disadvantaged youth and organic farming. The whole estate is buzzing with activity, and I could see what a thrill it gave him to walk around and ask questions of his staff.

Every Friday night, wherever he is in the world, Charles is sent a hefty report updating him on the estate’s work and he has it back to them first thing Saturday morning with notes. His wife Camilla will tell you he’s up late every night reading, writing and responding to requests for support and advice.

Where many of his predecessors saw his former role of Prince of Wales as a ticket to a playboy lifestyle and a guaranteed income, Charles professionalized it and made it his own. He wanted a legacy, but he didn’t want to wait until he was King. In my experience, he’s impatient and driven, and gets incredibly frustrated if one of his projects isn’t working or bearing fruit.

“The signs were there from young adulthood,” Kenneth Dunsmuir told me during the visit to Dumfries House. Dunsmuir runs The Prince’s Foundation, an educational charity set up by Charles to help teach traditional arts and skills. “His concerns about social issues in the community and ecological issues were all there and all that’s happened is that he has got more and more involved and has had the time to do that.”

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Dumfries House is Charles' stately home near Glasgow in Scotland.

Dunsmuir’s comment points to the other reason Charles achieved so much during his tenure: he was the longest-serving Prince of Wales ever due to the longevity of his mother’s reign. Dunsmuir thinks of Dumfries House, he said, as a “fantastic physical legacy to that work that will always be here and always remain.”

Charles has often struggled to contain his passion for his work, expressing his hopes and fears during speeches over the years and often sounding more like a campaigner than a constitutional monarch-in-waiting. That prompted accusations that he was threatening the independence and impartiality of the monarchy. Take climate change, on which he has been speaking out since 1968. It’s since become a mainstream issue and, for some, a political one. Charles was a prominent backer 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 pact.

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Charles, the Prince of Wales, poses for an official portrait in November 2008. He became King after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

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Charles was born at Buckingham Palace in London on November 14, 1948. His mother was Princess Elizabeth at the time.

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Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, sit on a lawn with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne in August 1951.

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Charles attends his mother's coronation in 1953 with his grandmother, left, and his aunt Margaret.

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Charles, right, shakes hands with Sir Gerald Creasy, the governor of Malta, as he and the rest of the royal family visit Malta in May 1954.

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Charles rides with his mother and grandmother as they travel to Westminster Abbey for the wedding of Princess Margaret in May 1960.

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Charles prepares for takeoff during a flying lesson in 1968. In 1971, he earned his wings as a jet pilot and joined the Royal Navy.

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Charles walks at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1970. He was the first royal heir to earn a university degree.

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Charles, left, rides go-carts with his brother Prince Edward and his sister, Princess Anne, circa 1969.

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Charles meets US President Richard Nixon during a private visit to Washington in July 1970.

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Charles attends a conference with his father in November 1970.

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Charles goes on a safari in Kenya in February 1971.

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Charles prepares to fire a bazooka while visiting military barracks in West Berlin in October 1972.

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Charles fishes with a wooden spear circa 1975.

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Charles poses for sculptor David McFall in December 1975.

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Charles smokes a peace pipe during a visit to Canada in July 1977.

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Charles rides a horse during an equestrian event in Cirencester, England, in April 1978.

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Charles, as colonel-in-chief, visits the Cheshire Regiment in Canterbury, England, in November 1978. He served in the Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976, and in 2012 his mother appointed him honorary five-star ranks in the navy, army and air force.

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Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are seen together circa 1979. They dated in the 70s and would eventually marry in 2005. It was the second marriage for both. Their first marriages ended in divorce.

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Charles poses outside the Taj Mahal in India in 1980.

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Charles kisses his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in July 1981. Their wedding ceremony was televised.

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Charles and Princess Diana leave a London hospital with their first child, William, in July 1982.

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Charles and Diana dance together at a formal event.

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Charles shares a playful pie in the face while visiting a community center in Manchester, England, in December 1983.

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Charles walks with natives on a visit to Papua New Guinea in 1984.

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Charles and Diana sit together in Toronto during a royal tour in October 1991. A year later, they were separated. Charles' affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles became public in 1993.

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Charles, Diana and their two sons, William and Harry, gather for V-J Day commemorations in London in August 1995. The couple divorced one year later.

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South African President Nelson Mandela talks with Prince Charles in London in July 1996.

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Charles poses with the Spice Girls in 1997.

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Charles and his sons spend time together at the Balmoral Castle estate in Balmoral, Scotland, in August 1997.

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Charles, second from right, and Princess Diana's two sisters meet in Paris after Diana was killed in a car crash there in August 1997. She was 36 years old.

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Charles and his sons follow Diana's hearse in London in September 1997.

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Charles stands beside his grandmother's coffin while it lies in state at Westminster Hall in London in April 2002.

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Charles carries a specially painted football through the streets of Ashbourne, England, in March 2003.

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Charles watches a parachute regiment during a D-Day re-enactment in Ranville, France, in June 2004.

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Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles in April 2005.

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Queen Elizabeth II presents Charles with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honor during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in London in May 2009.

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Charles and Camilla were on their way to a performance at the London Palladium when their car was attacked by angry student protesters in December 2010. The students were protesting a hike in tuition fees.

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Charles and Queen Elizabeth II were among those on the Buckingham Palace balcony after Prince William wed Kate Middleton in April 2011.

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Charles reads the weather while touring BBC Scotland's headquarters in May 2012.

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Charles meets with US President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office in March 2015.

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Charles and Camilla react as Zephyr, the bald-eagle mascot of the Army Air Corps, flaps his wings at the Sandringham Flower Show in July 2015.

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Members of the royal family pose for a photo at Buckingham Palace in December 2016. From left are Camilla, duch*ess of Cornwall; Prince Charles; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Philip; Prince William; and Catherine, duch*ess of Cambridge.

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Charles visits the Italian town of Amatrice in April 2017, after an earthquake had hit.

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Charles and Camilla ride on a raft while visiting the island of Borneo in November 2017.

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Charles leads three cheers for his mother as the Queen celebrated her 92nd birthday at a London concert in April 2018.

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From left, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, duch*ess Camilla and Queen Elizabeth II watch a Royal Air Force flyover in July 2018.

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Charles accompanies his future daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, as she is married to Prince Harry in May 2018.

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Charles lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in London to commemorate Remembrance Day in November 2018. It was also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

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Charles poses with family members for an official portrait to mark his 70th birthday. He's holding his grandson Prince George as Camilla sits next to his granddaughter, Princess Charlotte. In the back row, from left, are his grandson Prince Louis; his daughter-in-law Catherine; his son Prince William; his son Prince Harry; and his daughter-in-law Meghan.

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Charles speaks at an event in London in March 2020. Later that month, it was announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In pictures: Britain's King Charles III

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 the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink in time to restore the balance when we could have done? I don’t want to.”

I sat down with Charles for an interview that day and he insisted the Paris Accord was still achievable. “We can’t go on like this, with every month another record in temperatures being broken. If we leave it too long, and we have done, just growing things is going to become difficult,” he said.

Despite criticism – and at times ridicule – over his fight to be the royals’ ecowarrior, Charles has continued to be a pioneer in green issues in recent years.

Charles was in his element at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November 2021, where he implored countries to work with industries to create solutions to climate change.

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Charles has spent his whole life preparing to be sovereign and has proved beyond doubt that he isn't work-shy.

“We know this will take trillions, not billions, of dollars,” he said at the time. Climate change and loss of biodiversity pose a great threat and the world must go on a “war-like footing” to combat them, he added.

US President Joe Biden commented on Charles’ decades-long efforts at the event, paying him the ultimate compliment by saying he’d got “the whole thing going” and “that’s how it all started.”

Charles has been outspoken on a whole range of sensitive issues from genetically modified crops to homeopathic medicines and architecture. It’s made him a more divisive figure than his mother, who barely cracked an expression during her reign, let alone expressed an opinion. Elizabeth’s legendary ability not to offend and alienate was more strategic than many realize, but Charles has always insisted he intends to follow her lead and stop meddling when he takes the throne.

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Charles, pictured with Camilla, professionalized the role of Prince of Wales and made it his own.

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Charles walks in Cambridge in 1967 when he began his term at Trinity College.

In 2018, Charles said to the BBC: “The idea, somehow, that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two – the two situations – are completely different.” When specifically asked if his campaigning would continue, he said: “No, it won’t. I’m not that stupid.”

In all the conversations I have had with members of the family and their aides, there has never been talk of the more popular Prince William leapfrogging his father to the throne either.

Charles has spent his whole life preparing to be sovereign and has proved beyond doubt that he isn’t work-shy. William has never been in a rush to take the crown meanwhile, preferring to build his royal portfolio steadily whilst focusing on his young family and developing his own set of interests and causes.

Charles and William came together personally and professionally when Prince Harry dispensed with his royal duties in 2020, leaving the remaining senior royals a much more compact group. The relationship between the new King and his heir will now be key to the future stability of the monarchy, as will the dynamic between the new King and his wife.

I’ve seen what a tower of support Camilla has always been to Charles. I’ve seen how fractious and frustrated he can become when he faces an obstacle in his work, and she has a unique talent for dissipating any tension with a sense of humor and charisma that doesn’t come across on camera.

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Charles and William, pictured with Prince Harry in 1997, came together personally and professionally when Harry stepped back from his royal duties in 2020.

In 2015 I sat down with Charles at another of his residences in Scotland – Birkhall, in the Highlands. It was to mark the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary ahead of a US tour.

Related article Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral: How the royal family will say goodbye to their matriarch

He told me, “It’s always marvelous to have somebody who, you know, you feel understands and wants to encourage. Although she certainly pokes fun if I get too serious about things. And all that helps.”

After the interview, I went with him to a drawing room where we were joined by Camilla as we waited for the cameras to get ready for some set-up shots. Camilla was asking how it went and joking about our outfits, and he was immediately more relaxed in her company. Her ability to steady a room has now become a national asset, as the wife of the country’s head of state – and symbol of stability.

With Camilla standing firmly by his side, Charles will now set his stamp on the monarchy. After decades in waiting, he is not only head of state for the United Kingdom but also for 14 other nations including Canada and Australia. The eyes of the world are on him as he assumes the mantle of King.

To get updates on the British Royal Family sent to your inbox, sign up for CNN’s Royal News newsletter.

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What can the world expect from King Charles III? | CNN (2024)

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