Little-Known Facts About King Charles: One-Time Surfer, Jockey and Hedgelayer
King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, windsurfing, November 1979. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
King Charles will be crowned next month at London’s Westminster Abbey, following in a tradition that dates back some 1,000 years.
Here are some little-known facts about the monarch:
First Regal School Boy
Charles is the first monarch to have gone to school, as all his predecessors were educated by private tutors.
He went to Hill House school in West London before becoming a boarder at Cheam School in Berkshire, which was attended by his late father Prince Philip and where he was later head boy.
He was then sent to Gordonstoun, a tough boarding school in Scotland where Philip had also studied. As part of his education, he spent two terms at Geelong Church of England Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia.
He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, to study archaeology and physical and social anthropology but later changed to history. He also spent a term at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth learning Welsh.
As a young prince, Charles loved skiing, surfing, and scuba diving. He was a keen polo player for more than 40 years until he finally retired from the sport in 2005, aged 57.
He played competitively until 1993, once suffering a double fracture to his right arm after a fall which required surgery and a bone graft. Another tumble in 2001 also landed him in hospital.
He also rode as an amateur jockey in six races in 1980-81, coming second on two occasions but also being unseated twice.
Music and Arts Lover
Charles is passionate about the arts and especially Shakespeare, from whose works he quoted a number of times in the aftermath of succeeding his mother Queen Elizabeth.
At school, he learned to play the piano, trumpet and cello and appeared in a number of theatrical productions including the lead in a production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. He is a lover of opera and classical music, but also cites Leonard Cohen as one of his favourites.
Among songs he selected for a special hospital radio programme in 2021 were tracks by The Three Degrees, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand and Edith Piaf.
As Prince of Wales in 2000, he also revived a tradition of having an official harpist.
Charles is well-known for his environmental campaigning and his love of nature and the outdoors runs deep.
His office revealed in 2020 that after he plants a tree, he often gives a branch a friendly shake to wish it well.
Another of his outdoor pursuits is hedgelaying, and he is patron of the National Hedgelaying Society.
Aides say he is happiest in the garden at his Highgrove home in west England, or, like his late mother, walking and fishing in the wild estates of the royal family’s Scottish homes.
He has also written a children’s book “The Old Man of Lochnagar,” published in 1980, to entertain his younger brothers Andrew and Edward, with the story of an old man’s adventures in the countryside around Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
The heather-covered mountains around Balmoral have also been the inspiration for some of his watercolour paintings, some of which have been displayed in exhibitions over the last 50 years.
No Lunch Please
Charles does not eat lunch, and his favourite tea is Darjeeling with honey and milk.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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