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Prince Charles and Camilla

Prince Charles’s challenging year: 12 months in images

Prince Charles talks about the environment at Birkhall
BBC Still/ Fair Use

The past year for the Prince of Wales has been marked by personal loss, family issues and focus on sustainability and green initiatives as he helps navigate the Royal Family and the UK through the new normal brought on by the ongoing global pandemic. 

Today, as Prince Charles celebrates his 73rd birthday, let’s take a look back at key moments in the past year of his life. 

November 2020

In November, the Prince of Wales took part in the Festival of Remembrance programme, albeit in a virtual capacity due to the pandemic, where he gave a speech, saying: “Over these extraordinarily difficult past few months, almost every aspect of our national life has been disrupted. Many of us have been separated from those we love and, together, we continue to endure anxiety and grief not previously experienced in peacetime.

“Through all this, just as in wartime, the very best of our country has been on conspicuous display. We have reaffirmed our faith in each other and in our communities and seen afresh that service to others underpins our society.

“We have been reminded that heroes and heroines are all around us and take many forms.”

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Later that month, on 15 November, Prince Charles and Camilla paid a visit to Berlin to attend Germany’s National Day of Mourning, which specifically highlighted the 75 years of German-British friendship in the ensuing years since the end of the Second World War. 

In a speech, Prince Charles said: “Looking back through the prism of two world wars, with all the cruel distortions rendered by conflict and loss, so many of those close connections between Britain and Germany became obscured. And yet, as our countries, and our people, set to the difficult task of rebuilding this continent – and our trust in one another – the deep and historic well of shared experience from which we drew enabled the seeds of reconciliation to take root and flourish.” 

December 2020

In December, Prince Charles and Camilla joined The Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal for an outdoor reception at Windsor Castle to thank frontline workers for their essential services during the pandemic; visited Salisbury Cathedral and The Royal Mail’s Delivery Office and Corinum Museum. 

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On Christmas Eve, Prince Charles and Camilla joined actors in recording a version of Twas the Night Before Christmas in support of the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.

January 2021

In January, Prince Charles’s Sustainable Markets Initiative launched the ‘Terra Carta’, a green charter that focuses on sustainability at the heart of the private sector. He said: “Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavour, and to give their support to this ‘Terra Carta’ – to bring prosperity into harmony with Nature, People and Planet over the coming decade. 

“I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilize the innovation, scale and 

February 2021

In February, Prince Charles launched a half-term Prince of Wales Nature Challenge for schoolchildren in the UK, working with some of his nature-based patronages to create a week-long series of engagements to encourage young children and families to explore the great outdoors. 

March 2021

On 23 March, the UK marked one year since the pandemic lockdowns with the Day of Reflection. Prince Charles recorded a video message, saying: “In their memory, let us resolve to work for a future inspired by our highest values, that have been displayed so clearly by the people of this country through this most challenging of times.”

On 24 March, Prince Charles and Camilla travelled to Athens, Greece, to mark the country’s Bicentenary Independence Day. The two-day visit saw the royal couple immersed in Greek culture. 

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In a speech, Prince Charles said: “My wife and I could not be more delighted to be back in Greece, which has long held the most special place in my heart. After all, Greece is the land of my grandfather; and of my father’s birth, nearly one hundred years ago, in the centenary year of Greek Independence. Later, it was in Athens that my dear grandmother, Princess Alice, during the dark years of Nazi occupation, sheltered a Jewish family – an act for which in Israel she is counted as “Righteous Among The Nations.” 

April 2021

Sadly, on 9 April, the Duke of Edinburgh passed away aged 99 at Windsor Castle. In a tribute to his father, Prince Charles gave a speech saying: “I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to The Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth. 

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“As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously. He was a much loved and appreciated figure, and apart from anything else, I can imagine, he would be so deeply touched by the number of other people here and elsewhere around the world and the Commonwealth, who also, I think, share our loss and our sorrow.

“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view, we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time. Thank you.”

In the lead up to Prince Philip’s funeral, Prince Charles and Camilla were active on social media, sharing their favourite photos of the late duke. They visited the Marlborough House Gardens to view floral tributes from the public; and, on 17 April, were among the select mourners to attend Prince Philip’s funeral at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. 

May 2021

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On 5 May, Prince Charles visited the Welsh Guards at Combermere Barracks in Windsor to thank them for the role they’d played in his father’s funeral. “If I may say so, it was a wonderful credit, not only to the Welsh Guards but also to the Household Division and all those who were on parade that day for what you all did. I know my family and I were deeply moved by the way you all performed your duties,” he told them. 

June 2021

In June, Prince Charles and Camilla joined The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Cornwall for events related to the G7 Summit—the leaders of the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy—taking place in the UK this year. 

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Prince Charles hosted CEOs at St James’s Palace to discuss the Sustainable Markets Initiative; attended a reception in Cornwall with global leaders; and held a second reception to discuss climate change initiatives. 

July 2021

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Prince Charles appeared on BBC Four’s Today show to discuss sustainable farming, saying: “Around 35 years ago, I set out to show it was viable to adopt a sustainable approach to farming so that we could produce nutritious food without destroying the soil that grows it. Year after year I had watched with increasing concern as many of this country’s precious landscapes were slowly diminished in the name of “efficiency”. Such has been the damage to the natural systems we depend upon, we must achieve profound and rapid change to reverse it. We must put Nature back at the heart of the equation.”

Elsewhere, Prince Charles and Camilla carried out their annual visits to Wales and Devon and Cornwall in July.

August 2021

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Appearing on BBC Four’s radio programme The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed, Prince Charles spoke about the role nature and the natural world played in his early childhood. He told poet laureate Simon Armitage that “My sister and I had a little vegetable patch in the back of some border somewhere. We had great fun trying to grow tomatoes rather unsuccessfully.” 

Prince Charles spent most of the month in Scotland, carrying out engagements there.

September 2021

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After carrying out extensive engagements in Scotland, Prince Charles and Camilla returned to London and the red carpet—celebrating the return of James Bond and movies—for the premiere of the latest James Bond flick, No Time To Die in London. 

October 2021

Prince Charles marked the planting season’s beginning for The Queen’s Green Canopy with his mother and schoolchildren from Crathie Primary School on the Balmoral Estate on 1 October. 

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Later in the month, Prince Charles joined The Queen for the opening of the Scottish Parliament and the opening of the Senedd in Wales. 

November 2021

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With his mother’s health dominating the headlines, Prince Charles stepped up in November to lead the Royal Family through significant events, including COP26 and Remembrance Sunday events. Prince Charles is pictured here on Remembrance Sunday.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.