As His Majesty the King begins a new role at the age of 74, we look at his life and work and how he has been a thought leader in championing age diversity.
Stepping into a new job at any age can be daunting, but stepping into the role of the sovereign of the country at an age when most people are collecting their pension is not for the faint-hearted.
King Charles is not a member of the Royal Family who is afraid of hard work. While many of his business enterprises and work ventures have been charitable, or managed in trust with his estate, he is known to have a keen eye on their workings and operation. He is undoubtedly a natural entrepreneur! And he certainly is unafraid when it comes to speaking up on topics that may occasionally raise eyebrows. Most often, those eyebrows are raised, simply because King Charles is a man ahead of his time.
Born on November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace in London and christened Charles Philip Arthur George, our now-King was the first grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
King Charles endured something of a challenging childhood, particularly during his time at various boarding schools, and he has spoken openly about it being a low point in his life. Yet these experiences planted a seed within him, and it was during his childhood that he developed a lasting fondness for the great outdoors and nature.
In 1967, Charles became the first heir to the British throne to earn a university degree when he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, archaeology, and history.
Throughout his early life, he developed an interest in environmentalism and conservation, which would become a major focus of his later life and work.
Of course, he later went on to experience a very public marriage and divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, and his private life with Camilla, Queen Consort, has endured decades of public scrutiny.
Privately, he is known as a man with a dry sense of humour, a love of laughter and a passionate drive in pursuing the issues close to his heart.
While we may have scoffed at the time, King Charles was one of the first to speak out on sustainability, organic farming, and the adoption of environmentally-friendly business practices.
It was as early as 1970 when he spoke to the media about the dangers of pollution and climate change. Now, as we reflect, it is evident that he was decades ahead of the rest of us in his thinking.
While his mother, the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, was loath to speak on political issues, back in 2005, Prince Charles was lobbying the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to promote energy efficiency and to address the growing climate change issues. In fact, he was noted as something of a nuisance to many in Westminster, with his lobbying on the matters that were closest to his heart.
His advocacy on the environment led him to establish his own food line, Dutchy Organics, and the greater Dutchy Estate is a multi-million-pound operation, which operates agriculture, farming, real estate, forestry, and tourism businesses, all modelled on his principles and beliefs on sustainability and ecological conservation.
On Charles’ ascension to the throne, the Dutchy will pass to his son, Prince William, another keen environmentalist, who is anticipated to continue his father’s legacy. King Charles, Age Pioneer
While we at 55/Redefined are proudly outspoken on the many issues faced by the over-50s in the workplace, the then-Prince Charles was, once more, way ahead of the curve.
In 1999, he established PRIME (The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise), a charity that advocates for the over-50s, for their voices to be heard, celebrating the value and experience that older employees bring to the workplace (sound familiar?).
After launching PRIME, the Prince spoke with pride about the initiative, which strives to “offer business advice and mentoring to older people and has already helped more than 23,000 in England and Wales.”
Prince Charles was one of the early voices in the conversations on ageism and was quoted as saying that the success rate for older entrepreneurs usually tends to be much higher than for those who are younger, as their skills and decision-making abilities have been sharpened through years of experience.
As he put it: “If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea, whatever age you are.”
As the charity continued to grow, in 2014, he said: "It is time we recognised what older people bring to the workplace and to enterprise – in other words, experience, reliability and flexibility.”
"Many of those currently unemployed are desperate to make that contribution.”
... We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
Much of PRIME’s work went on to become part of Charles’ charity, Business in the Community, but PRIME Cymru, established in 2001, continues today, helping those in Wales to get back into work, set up on their own and boost their confidence and self-esteem. They also carry out continued lobbying on the subject of age discrimination.
Taking on his new role as monarch of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, there is already considerable speculation about how he will conduct the role bequeathed on him. As King, while he will be prevented from speaking openly on matters of a political nature, that is not to say (as many royal correspondents suspect), that he won’t be lobbying from behind the scenes for the issues that he has spent much of his life advocating for.
It is already clear that he has designs on streamlining and modernising the monarchy and hopefully, passing on his legacy of campaigning for age diversity and equality to a trusted member of the family, such as Prince William, to continue his important work on a subject that is understandably, very dear to our hearts.
The Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort will take place on the morning of Saturday 6 May, 2023 at Westminster Abbey, and the service will be televised live on the BBC.
Official events commence at 11 am GMT. It will also be broadcast live on ITV and Sky in the UK, and international viewers will be able to watch on BBC iPlayer.
If you are in London, there are detailed route maps and additional information available for those planning to attend.
There will also be a number of free screening sites around the UK.