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FeaturesPrince Charles and Camilla

Charles at 72: a year in the life of the birthday prince


Photo: Charlie Proctor / Royal Central

The Prince of Wales celebrates his 72nd birthday on November 14th 2020 and will look back on an eventful year which has seen change in his family and a challenge to alter the Royal Family in a moment unprecedented in its recent history. As Charles marks his birthday, Royal Central looks back at the year just gone for the birthday prince.

November 2019

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He stands in line to be King of New Zealand one day and just after turning 71, Charles visited the country for the first time in four years. During his eight day stay with the Duchess of Cornwall, he visited Christchurch Cathedral which is being rebuilt after the devastation caused by the earthquake in 2011. The prince, whose passion for architecture is well known, toured the site and talked to those whose lives were affected by the quake.

December 2019

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The Prince of Wales was at the Queen’s side as Royal Family came together to celebrate Christmas Day at Sandringham. Charles joined his mother as the Windsors attended Morning Service at St. Mary Magdalene Church. He was joined by his elder son, the Duke of Cambridge, but his younger child, the Duke of Sussex, was in Canada. Within weeks, all three would be back at Sandringham as Prince Harry announced he was leaving his role as a senior royal.

January 2020

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An historic visit to Bethlehem took place in January as Prince Charles became the most senior member of the Royal Family to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

February 2020

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The Prince was in his Principality in February as he visited Pontypridd to see how the local community was faring following flooding. Crowds and handshakes would soon be a thing of the past.

March 2020

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The annual Commonwealth Day service took place in the shadow of an impending lockdown. All eyes were on the royals for other reasons as the family came together following the very public decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to step back from their roles as senior royals. It was the first time that Charles, William and Harry had been seen together since the Sandringham Summit that followed the announcement. They are yet to appear in public together again.

April 2020

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Life changed rapidly and dramatically for people around the world as March turned into April. The UK entered lockdown and it was revealed that the Prince of Wales had been diagnosed with coronavirus. The heir to the throne later said he had only experienced mild symptoms as he went into isolation at his Scottish home at Birkhall. After his quarantine ended, he was photographed with the Duchess of Cornwall joining in the Clap for Carers which brought so many together in the UK to show their appreciation for the work done by the NHS as the crisis continued.

May 2020

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The Prince of Wales led the nation’s commemorations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day on May 6th 2020. Unable to travel because of coronavirus restrictions, he laid a wreath at the memorial near his Birkhall, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall.

June 2020

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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall began face to face engagements in June 2020 as coronavirus restrictions began to ease. They paid a visit to the Royal Gloucestershire Hospital, near their home at Highgrove, to show their appreciation for the work done by the NHS during the crisis. Charles greeted his hosts with the ‘namaste’ which has become his calling card since the pandemic took hold.

July 2020

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The Prince of Wales was keen to return to some semblance of normal life as soon as possible and in July, he undertook his annual visits to Wales and the South West of England, albeit in a truncated form and governed by adherence to government measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. During their time in Cornwall, Charles and Camilla visited Tintagel, home of King Arthur, and signed their names on slates which will be incorporated into a new bridge at the famous tourist site.

August 2020

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On the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, August 15th 2020, Prince Charles laid a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on behalf of the nation. Charles was clearly touched by the poignancy of the moment.

September 2020

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No royal visit to Northern Ireland is complete now without a ‘Game of Thrones’ reference. On a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the Prince of Wales stopped for a photo by the Willow Throne, created in homage to the famous TV show filmed in large part in Northern Ireland. However, the Duchess of Cornwall had to remind him to put down his tea cup before they posed for the pictures.

October 2020

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One day, it will be his face on all the notes issued by the Bank of England but on a visit in October 2020, the Prince of Wales was more interested in checking out the state of the currency now. The face on the money that he and Camilla inspected didn’t need too much introduction as they toured the Bank to thanks its staff for their work in the coronavirus pandemic.

November 2020

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A Prince remembers, on behalf of a nation. As is now traditional, the Prince of Wales laid the first wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. Days later, and just before his 72nd birthday, he laid another wreath on behalf of everyone in the United Kingdom on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. Following in the footsteps of the man who created the House of Windsor, King George V, this future king looked every inch the monarch in waiting.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.