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Despite taking the throne much later than expected, King Charles III spent his entire life preparing for the day he would become king. That moment came on September 8, 2022, when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch, died. At age 73, Charles is the oldest person to assume the British throne and must now put a lifetime of learning and shadowing his mother to the test.

Born Charles Philip Arthur George on November 14, 1948, in London, England, Charles was Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s first child. He became heir apparent to the British throne and received the title of Duke of Cornwall at age 3, after his grandfather, King George VI, died and his mother became queen. Charles attended the Hill House School in London before heading off to boarding school at Cheam School in Headley, Hampshire, England the following year. At age 9, he was made the Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester and began taking on more responsibilities.

Charles studied archaeology, anthropology and history at Trinity College from 1967 to 1970. After receiving his degree in 1970—the first royal heir apparent to do so—Charles embarked on a career in the military. After his service, he struck up a relationship, and later marriage, with Lady Diana Spencer. They had two children together: Their first son, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis, was born on June 21, 1982, and their second son, Prince Henry "Harry" Charles Albert David, was born on September 15, 1984.

Personal conflicts and infidelity drove a wedge in the relationship; the couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996. Diana died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997. Years later, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, his former flame, on April 9, 2005.

Awaiting his turn at the throne, Charles continued to father his children and grandchildren while tending to his royal duties and charitable efforts.