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The Truth Behind the Crown: Prince Charles

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As the second series of The Crown drew to a close, we left Prince Charles amid the gloom of Gordonstoun; bullied by his peers and admonished by Prince Philip for his sensitivity.

With the third series rumoured to cover the period between 1964 and 1977, it seems likely that we’re set to be shown Prince Charles growing from a lost boy into a principled man with an offbeat sense of humour, and the start of a passionate affair that would loom large over the future King’s entire life.

True Royalty are the true experts when it comes to the British Royal Family, so join us as we delve deeper into Prince Charles’s life in the 1960s and 1970s, and examine the episodes that are likely to be touched on in the next instalment of the Netflix drama.

 

A Difficult Adolescence

The finale of season two neatly skipped over what some would argue was one of a number of defining moments during Charles’s time at Gordonstoun; the occasion on which he and a number of his classmates sailed one of the school’s ketches to the nearby Isle of Lewis – and decided to go drinking in a local pub.

The plan went awry when curious locals noticed the young heir on the island, and word had spread rapidly by the time the boys were holed up in the Crown Hotel. Prince Charles and his entourage – including Charles’s bodyguard and confidant Donald Green – ended up under siege from the press, and the following day’s papers splashed the story that the 14-year-old Prince had ordered himself a cherry brandy. 

The fallout was immediate; the boys involved had their sailing privileges revoked and, worse yet, the Metropolitan Police saw fit to sack Donald Green – one of the only friends that Prince Charles actually had at Gordonstoun. This early experience of falling foul of the press may have laid the foundations for a certain distrust towards the media; something that would come to bear on the Royal Family as a whole.

The most enjoyable aspect of his education, according to Charles, were the two terms he spent in 1966 at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria Australia – so any serious attempt to portray Charles’s teenage years is likely to include this. Upon his return, he left Gordonstoun in 1967 and defied family convention by heading straight to Cambridge University instead of going into military service. He continued blazing his own trail by becoming the first heir apparent to earn a university degree in 1970. 

The Stirring of Passion

A year after leaving university, Charles met Camilla Rosemary Shand, when they were formally introduced to one another at the home of Lucia Santa Cruz. They became friends and later lovers – a fact that was not hidden from their circle of friends. This was just the beginning of a love story that would echo decades into the future.

Charles’s bachelorhood is a ripe area for drama, and provides an avenue through which to explore his close relationship with his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. Mountbatten very much took Charles under his wing and throughout the early 1970s was instrumental in orchestrating courtships between Charles and a number of suitable matches, among them Princess Diana’s sister. 

Nevertheless, it was Camilla who captured Charles’s heart, and his feelings for her would never quite subside; not when she married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973, nor when Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1991. Charles and Camilla’s romance would be often interrupted but never entirely severed; they would carry out affairs in the 1980s during Camilla’s marriage, and in the 1990s during Charles’s. 

A Military Tradition

One of the interruptions was Prince Charles’s returning to family traditions with a stint in the military, joining the Royal Air Force on 8th March 1971 – abruptly ending his courtship with Camilla Shand. Without Charles having asked Camilla to wait for him, she went ahead and married Andrew Parker Bowles. Upon hearing of the engagement, Prince Charles expressed his sorrow in a letter to Lord Mountbatton, resignedly saying that “I suppose the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually.”

Nevertheless, there was plenty to keep Charles’s mind off his relationship troubles during his military service; after completing his RAF training in September, he followed in his father’s footsteps by undergoing training at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. He went on to serve as a guided missile destroyer on the HMS Norfolk, qualified as a helicopter pilot (a feat later to be replicated by his son Prince William), and then joined the 845 Naval Air Squadron.

It was during his time as a young man that Prince Charles developed a life-long love for the absurd comedy of Spike Milligan and his Goon Show; in fact, while undergoing his RAF training in 1971 Prince Charles exercised his comedy chops by recording a film featuring his note-perfect impression of The Goon Show character Bluebottle – a young Boy Scout with a very high-pitched voice.

The Truth Behind The Crown

It’s clear that the period from 1964 to 1977 covers some hugely formative experiences in the life of the young Prince; experiences that would shape the rest of his life both positively and negatively. The next series of The Crown seems likely to provide an overview of how the heir apparent became his own man, but for the real story visit True Royalty TV for a host of shows about the future King including King Charles and Queen Camilla: Into the Unknown,  40 Years of the Prince’s Trust and Highgrove: Prince Charles at Home.

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