King Charles: A Life in Photos

King Charles III will arrive at his coronation on Saturday after nearly three-quarters of a century in the public eye. Born in the final years of his grandfather’s reign, he became heir apparent to the British throne at age 3, a prince in an era when Britain’s mass media was growing and its culture of deference was fading alongside the vestiges of its empire.

Cameras have shadowed him from the start. Often they were invited and tightly controlled, though sometimes with undesirable results nonetheless. And sometimes they were entirely unwelcome: Tabloids feasted on the drawn-out implosion of his first marriage, to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Over the decades, Charles also learned to use that ceaseless attention in the service of the causes he championed, such as traditional architecture and organic farming — a record of activism that he promised to leave behind as he assumed the role of monarch.

This is a selection of the most memorable images from his long life as a prince and his new life as king.

Charles with his mother, then Princess Elizabeth, after his christening ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 1948.

The 2-year-old Charles waving to bystanders in 1951 as he and his sister, Princess Anne — on the other side of the car, and not yet 1 — took flowers to their great-grandmother Queen Mary on her 84th birthday.

Queen Elizabeth with Anne and Charles in 1952, the year she ascended the throne. They were at Balmoral Castle, the remote Scottish home that was a favorite of hers.

The queen with Anne, Charles and their father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1954, after she and Philip returned from a 13-country tour of the Commonwealth.

Charles chasing a runaway calf while visiting a dairy farm on the Balmoral Castle estate in 1954.

The queen and Philip watching Anne and Charles playing during a visit to a sawmill on the Balmoral estate in 1957.

Elizabeth and Philip on the lawn at Balmoral Castle in 1960 with Anne, Charles and their younger brother Prince Andrew, born that year 1960. A third son, Edward, followed four years later.

Charles skiing in Liechtenstein in 1964, while on vacation from Gordonstoun, the austere private boarding school in Scotland that Philip had attended before him.

Charles cycling in Cambridge in 1969. After Gordonstoun, he went on to university — a new step for a British prince — studying anthropology and archaeology at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Charles was formally invested with the title Prince of Wales by his mother at Caernarfon Castle in North Wales in summer 1969. The ceremony drew opposition from Welsh separatists — there was even a bomb explosion during a planning meeting.

Charles at his first stop on that Welsh visit, the town of Cardigan, watched by a group of Brownies.

Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at a polo match in Cirencester Park in western England in 1975. The two were linked earlier in the 1970s, before her first marriage and Charles’s engagement to Lady Diana Spencer, and they would eventually marry in 2005.

Charles playing in a match at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor, near London, in the late 1970s.

Charles and Lady Diana Spencer posing outside Buckingham Palace after the official announcement of their engagement in 1981.

Charles and Diana leaving St. Paul’s Cathedral in London after their wedding in 1981. The wedding day was a global sensation, with a television audience estimated by the BBC at over 28 million in Britain alone.

Diana and Charles walking along the banks of the Dee River while on their honeymoon in Scotland in 1981.

Charles greeting locals in London’s East End in 1987. He has worked to align the monarchy with a multicultural Britain — though his legally mandated coronation oath includes a vow that he is a “faithful Protestant,” leaders of other faiths will take part in the ceremony.

Charles and Diana with their sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, in the Isles of Scilly, off England’s southwestern coast, in 1989.

Charles in 1989, viewing tributes left outside Lockerbie Town Hall in Scotland after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. More than 250 people died aboard the trans-Atlantic flight when it was blown apart above the Scottish town late the previous year by a device concealed in luggage, and the wreckage killed another 11 people below.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their last official trip together, in Seoul, in 1992. They separated later that year, after years of media speculation about their relationship. In separate television interviews in 1995, they both admitted infidelity. They divorced in 1996.

Harry, Charles and William on their yearly ski trip in Klosters, Switzerland, in 1996. Photo opportunities negotiated with the British press helped bring at least some degree of privacy.

Charles joined Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, here holding his left arm, for a traditional sword dance in Saudi Arabia in 1997.

In May 1997, Charles met the Spice Girls, then at the height of their fame, during a royal gala performance to celebrate the 21st anniversary of a charity he founded to help vulnerable young people, the Prince’s Trust.

In July of that year, Charles, along with Prime Minister Tony Blair, traveled to Hong Kong to meet with President Jiang Zemin of China to mark the return of the territory to Chinese control after more than 150 years of British rule.

Charles with Harry and William in August 1997 near Ballater, Scotland.

Diana was killed in a car crash at the end of August of that year, prompting a national outpouring of grief and sometimes anger. The sight of the young princes walking behind their mother’s coffin — flanked by Philip; Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer; and Charles — is seared into the public memory in Britain. The televised funeral had 31 million domestic viewers, and even more in the United States.

Outside Kensington Palace in London, Charles, William and Harry inspected drifts of flowers left by thousands of mourners.

Charles and Harry traveling on the Eurostar to France to watch England play Columbia in the 1998 World Cup. (Their team would win 2-0, before losing to Argentina on penalties in the next round.)

Charles and William in 2004 at the Duchy Home Farm in Tetbury, England, near Charles’s main country home, Highgrove. Organic farming has been both a passion and a business for Charles: Having set out to improve the countryside around Highgrove in the 1980s, he became the founder of an organic food brand, Duchy Originals, in the 1990s.

Charles with a ranger at the Royal Albatross Center near Dunedin, New Zealand, in 2005.

Charles and Camilla after their wedding in 2005; she was given the title Duchess of Cornwall. The ceremony was at St. George’s Chapel in the royal residence of Windsor Castle — a grand setting, but not as prominent and public as St. Paul’s.

Charles visiting with students at Sahawa Integrated Islamiyyah School, in Kano, Nigeria, in 2006. International development was another key interest; on this trip, he announced that the British government would open an office funding humanitarian projects in northern Nigeria.

Charles and Camilla with a group of musicians at Bob Marley’s former home, now a museum, in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2008. They traveled widely as they sought to rebuild their public image together.

Queen Elizabeth presented Prince Charles with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honor during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2009.

In 2013, Camilla accompanied Charles to the state opening of Parliament for the first time. It’s perhaps the royal family’s most regular appearance as a constitutional symbol: At the beginning of each legislative session, the British government lists the measures it plans to enact in a speech read out by the monarch.

Charles walked Meghan Markle down the aisle toward her husband-to-be, Prince Harry, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in 2018.

Buckingham Palace issued family photos for Charles’s 70th birthday in 2018, with Camilla and his three grandchildren at the time — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — as well as his sons and their wives.

Charles feeding his Burford Brown and Maran chickens early in the morning at Highgrove House in Tetbury, England, in 2018.

Elizabeth and Charles at the state opening of Parliament in 2019. His ceremonial role increased as she became frailer; at the opening of Parliament in 2022, he read the monarch’s speech on her behalf.

At the queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, the absences on the balcony of Buckingham Palace were as closely watched as those present. Charles and William, with his wife, Catherine, and their children, remained in the center of the group. Harry and Meghan were not in attendance, amid growing tensions with the rest of the family; nor was Charles’s scandal-hit younger brother, Prince Andrew.

Charles, now King Charles III, after the death of Queen Elizabeth, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh, in September.

King Charles marching with the royal family as the queen’s coffin left Buckingham Palace during her funeral procession in September.

Charles shaking hands with a crowd in Hamburg, Germany, during his first state visit as king in March. He addressed the Parliament in Berlin, switching between English and German.

Charles inspecting the sovereign’s parade at Sandhurst, a British military academy, last month.

Charles and Camilla, now the queen consort, in the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace last month.

Produced by Mona Boshnaq and Sarah Eckinger, with text by Peter Robins.

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