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Prince CharlesMost recently in the news for his participation as the father of the groom in the royal wedding of his son, Prince William, and "very happy" over the news of his first grandson, Prince George, Charles is said to maintain a close relationship with both his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry,

Former husband to Princess Diana, and son of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles has lived in a fishbowl of media attention literally all of his life, which explains his often adversarial relationship with the tabloid press.

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Early Life

Born Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor on November 14, 1948 at Buckingham Palace, Prince Charles was the first child of then-Princess Elizabeth, and her husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Three more siblings followed - Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

After the death of his grandather, King George VI -and the ascension of his mother to the British throne as Queen Elizabeth II, Charles at age 4 became the royal heir apparent.

Quiet and sensitive, Prince Charles was widely perceived from his earliest days as the proverbial poor little rich boy whose parents returned home from months-long world travels to customarily greet their son with a brief handshake. Raised by governesses and later sent away to private schools, he was reportedly taunted unmercifully by classmates.

Following graduation from Cambridge in 1970, Prince Charles entered the Royal Navy and earned his RAF wings at the Royal Air Force College. His six-year naval career also included training as a helicoptor pilot at a Royal Naval Air Station in Somerset, afterwhich he served on the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes as part of the 845 Naval Air Squadron.

Camilla Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles

Although Charles rarely enjoyed warm and close personal relationships throughout his early life, two people stand out - a great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who served as Charles' trusted mentor (and who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979) - and a woman named Camilla Shand, whom he met in the 1970's.

With Charles away in the Navy for long stretches of time, Camilla later decided to marry Charles' friend, Andrew Parker Bowles.

Marriage to Princess Diana

By the late 1970's, Charles was in his early thirties as pressure mounted for the prince to marry.

Eventually, the news was announced of his engagement to 19-year old Diana Spencer. who looked for all the world like a star-struck teenager in love. It was Charles, however, who was already hinting at the fact that the wedding was royally-approved and for only public consumption, and to a reporter who asked if he was in love, Charles responded in the affirmative but quickly added, "whatever 'in love' means".

Touted in the press as the fairytale wedding of the century, the marriage of Charles and popular "Princess Di" took place in St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. By this time, according to various reports, Charles had already resumed his relationship with Parker Bowles.

Charles and Diana's eldest son, Prince William, was born on June 21, 1982. Prince Henry (Harry), was born two years later on September 15, 1984 by which time the marriage of Charles and Diana was already headed toward divorce.

Diana, the compassionate young woman with the photogenic smile, was by now aware of Charles' continued relationship with Parker Bowles.

Viewed in the press as a naive victim transformed into the vengeful and cheated-upon spouse, Diana later made no secret of the couple's marital woes.

Adding to the prince's troubles, Diana's worldwide popularity would continue unabated throughout the marriage. The expectant news of a separation came from the prime minister's office on December 9, 1992. Three years later, Princes Charles and Princess Diana were legally divorced.

Princess Diana was killed in a car accident one year later, plunging millions of Britons into unprecedented and public displays of grief resulting in rumors of an assasination plot - as well as demands for an official inquest, which later concluded that there was no evidence of foul play in her untimely death.

Marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles

Eight years after Diana's death, in February 2005 Charles announced his plans to marry Camilla Parker Bowles. The wedding, the subject of increasing derision in the British press, took place on April 9, 2005.

Today, Prince Charles continues to persue his interests in the arts, remains an outspoken critic of modern architecture, and is the president or patron of approximately 200 charitable organizations. He is also a strong proponent of reducing carbon emissions, and In May 2008 was hailed by environmentalists worldwide for his urging the halt to deforestation to prevent further global warming.

He is also said to have shown more devotion to his two sons since their mother's death, and appears to be happily partnered with the woman who he reportedly had loved all along.

Divorced in 1995, Parker Bowles has two adult children, Tom and Laura, from her previous marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles.

Related News & Biographies:

BBC News - Charles and Camilla In Depth

Britain Express - Prince Charles biography

Prince of Wales - Official Site

Charles, Prince of Wales - Wikipedia

Hello! Profiles - Camilla Parker Bowles

Famous Quotes:

• I sometimes wonder if two thirds of the globe is covered in red carpet.

• I learned the way a monkey learns - by watching its parents.

• A monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend. (On the proposed extension to the National Gallery, 1984.)

• All the time I feel I must justify my existence.

• Something as curious as the monarchy won't survive unless you take account of people's attitudes. After all, if people don't want it, they won't have it.

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