Charles sparked international concern this week as it was confirmed the Prince of Wales had tested positive for coronavirus. He was said to be “enormously touched” as he was inundated with get-well messages and was well enough to clap health workers from his private home on the Balmoral estate. Charles is the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, ascended almost 70 years ago.
His grandfather, King George VI, was just 56 and had been expected to rule for many more years when he died suddenly of coronary thrombosis in 1952.
George was extremely close with both his daughters – Elizabeth and Margaret – and the House of Windsor was left devastated by the news.
Charles, though, is said to have only one lasting memory of the man who ruled Britain during World War 2.
A souvenir brochure written for Charles’ investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969 reveals: “He vaguely recalls sitting with George VI to be photographed on his third birthday.”
In some ways the vagueness of this memory is ironic as Charles is said to have a lot in common with the grandfather he barely knew.
The text continues: “In many ways the Prince of Wales resembles his grandfather, King George VI.
“He is reserved, quiet and afraid of hurting people’s feelings.”
This description of Charles is consistent with several accounts of his early years and perhaps explains the sometimes difficult relationship he had with his father, Prince Philip, while growing up.
Born in Greece and heir to the Greek throne, Philip had to renounce his rights to the European crown before he could propose to Elizabeth.
His background and the difficulties he faced made him all the more determined to succeed, though, and Philip revelled at Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland.
He views these formative years and the tough education techniques employed at the school as what made him the man he is today and it is clear he wanted Charles to have the same experience.
Charles, though, is not his father.
Royal expert Katie Nicholl claims he was “miserable” at Gordonstoun and later called his time there “a prison sentence”.
Although clearly the two have a strong father-son bond, this emotional difference between Philip and Charles has endured for decades.
It is perhaps telling, then, to see the personal similarities with his grandfather highlighted considering Charles was only three when George unexpectedly passed away.
Published at Sat, 28 Mar 2020 12:09:00 +0000