Born on 14 November 1948, Prince Charles became heir to the throne when he was only three. In a break from tradition, the young prince was educated at a school rather than by a private tutor at the Palace.
Charles Philip Arthur George was born on 14 November 1948 to then Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip at Buckingham Palace. An official proclamation of his birth was released just before midnight the same day.
He was christened on 15 December in the music room at Buckingham Palace by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles became the heir apparent in 1952 when his mother became Queen Elizabeth II. He was four years old when he attended his mother's coronation on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey.
He became a boarder at a preparatory school in Berkshire, before attending Gordonstoun in eastern Scotland. A good student, Charles passed both his 'O' levels and 'A' Levels and went on to read archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College, Cambridge - where he was awarded a 2:2 degree.
In 1969, he was invested as Prince of Wales in a ceremony at Caernarfon Castle, and, in 1970, he took his seat in the House of Lords. During this time, Charles was taught to fly by the Royal Air Force, before embarking on a naval career. Carrying out his service on the destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates, the prince qualified as a helicopter pilot in 1974 and joined the 845 Naval Air Squadron.
In 1981, Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral. The fairytale wedding was watched by millions around the world. The couple's children followed soon after, with Prince William being born in 1982, followed by Prince Harry in 1984. The royal couple kept to a busy schedule of royal duties and toured many foreign countries.
However, the marriage was not to last and in 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced to the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. The marriage was dissolved on 28 August 1996.
When the princess was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year, the Prince of Wales flew to France with Diana's two sisters to bring her body back to London. The Princess lay in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace until the night before the funeral.
On the day of the funeral, the Prince of Wales accompanied his two sons, aged 15 and 12 at the time, as they walked behind the coffin from the Mall to Westminster Abbey. With them were the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess's brother, Earl Spencer.
Prince Charles asked the media to respect his sons' privacy and allow them to lead a normal school life. In the following years, Princes William and Harry, who are second and third in line to the throne, accompanied their father on a limited number of official engagements in the UK and abroad.
In February 2005, Clarence House announced that the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles would take place on 8 April 2005 at Windsor Castle. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were joined by around 800 guests at a Service of Prayer and Dedication at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
The Service was followed by a reception at Windsor Castle, which was hosted by Her Majesty The Queen. It is intended that the Duchess of Cornwall should use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.
The Prince of Wales has a wide range of interests and devotes much of his time to charity work, including the Prince's Trust and the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.
The Prince's Trust was established in 1976 to help 14 to 30-year-olds who struggled at school, have been in care, have been unemployed for a long time or have been in trouble with the law. It provides training and education for these youngsters. The prince is now president of the 'Prince's Charities', which are 20 not-for-profit organisations, 18 of which were personally founded by Charles. This group raises over £130 million each year.
He is well-known for his interest in issues such as the environment, architecture and inner-city renewal, and is believed to be an advocate of the neo-traditional ideas of architects such as Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier.
In 1984, he delivered a blistering attack on the profession of architecture in a speech given to the Royal Institute of British Architects. Despite criticism from the mainstream architectural press, he has continued to put forward his views on traditional urbanism, human scale, and green design.
The Prince has recently become known to be interested in greater exploration of alternative medicine, attracting criticism from the medical establishment and those who consider such complementary therapies to be pseudoscience at best. However, his charity, the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health, has been closely involved in a government drive to improve regulation and quality standards in the sector.
In a recent survey carried out by YouGov for Prospect magazine, Prince Charles was favoured above his son Prince William as the next UK monarch. The poll revealed that 45 per cent of those questioned picked Charles as their preferred king, while 37 per cent opted for William as successor to the throne. According to YouGov, this marked an increase in Prince Charles' popularity from five years earlier when just 37 per cent voted him as their favourite heir.
The 2005 wedding of Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles was thought to be behind the reluctance of some to vote him as their favourite future monarch. It seems that the public is, in the main, happy to see the status quo continue, as 65 per cent of respondents said they believed the Queen should remain as monarch.
Charles' son Prince William married Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011.