Why Charles is still in ‘great pain’ over Harry: King won’t close the door to his youngest son but is angry at ‘anguish’ Prince caused late Queen and unhappy at his criticism of Camilla – as portrait to mark monarch’s 75th birthday is released
- King Charles has marked his 75th birthday with a portrait taken by Rankin
When the Queen was 75, Rankin – the photographer who has shot everyone from Tony Blair to Madonna – took her Golden Jubilee portrait.
And perhaps it is becoming something of a family tradition, after King Charles summoned Rankin to Clarence House last month as he prepares to turn 75 himself.
Here, the King’s birthday portrait can be revealed – a black-and-white close-up which shows him with a twinkle in his eye.
It will appear on the cover of the Big Issue magazine on Monday, to coincide with the birthday launch of a cause dear to his heart: the Coronation Food Project, which aims to provide support during the cost of living crisis by redistributing food destined for landfills.
Looking directly into the camera, the King appears focused and determined, with a confident smile and plenty of wrinkles on show – as befits someone who took the throne well beyond retirement age.
Buckingham Palace has released a birthday portrait of King Charles taken by photographer Rankin for the cover of the Big Issue to mark the launch of The Coronation Food Project
Friends say Charles (pictured with Camilla at the State Opening of Parliament) is ‘invigorated’ by the challenge of becoming monarch and won’t be making much of a fuss about reaching his latest milestone on Tuesday
It’s understood there is currently ‘barely any level of communication’ between Charles and Harry (pictured with Meghan at Kevin Costner’s estate in Montecito, USA, on September 22)
Friends say Charles is ‘invigorated’ by the challenge of becoming monarch and won’t be making much of a fuss about reaching his latest milestone on Tuesday.
The King is determined to use his time on the throne productively, and only yesterday it was announced that Charles is to become the first ever patron of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with the Duke of Kent also passing the presidency to Charles’s trusty right-hand woman, his sister Princess Anne.
The portrait will appear on the cover of the Big Issue magazine on Monday
After the launch of the Coronation Food Project for his birthday, it will be business as usual. A creature of habit, the King gets up at 7am and starts each day with the same Royal Canadian Air Force exercises that kept his late father fighting fit well into his 80s.
The regime is known as 5BX, which stands for Five Basic Exercises, an 11-minute workout comprising toe-touches, sit-ups, back extensions, push-ups and running on the spot.
Other than a nagging back pain he has suffered from for years, the King is said to be in ‘very good shape’ – a must, given that he regularly works 12 to 14-hour days.
The King then sits down to a breakfast of eggs, toast and honey. He doesn’t stop for lunch if he can help it, preferring a cup of tea, a sandwich and something sweet – preferably one of his favourite Welsh cakes – at precisely 5pm.
Supper is equally simple, such as an omelette or jacket potato, before he returns to his paperwork late into the night.
‘He’s surprisingly abstemious and lives quite a simple life personally,’ says an insider. ‘He doesn’t drink that much and never over-eats. And he never ceases to delight that even in his 70s he can still fit into all his old uniforms.’
Charles enjoys music, with his catholic tastes taking in everything from Wagner to Leonard Cohen, The Three Degrees and even a little Bob Marley.
His real passion, however, is being out in the fresh air: walking, gardening or working down on his farm, digging and hedge-laying.
In Singapore, Prince William insisted he wants to ‘go a step further’ than his family and bring real change to the causes he supports
There is undeniable anger at the anguish the King believes Harry caused the late Queen in the last years of her life, not to mention the insults he has heaped upon his own wife Camilla, of whom Charles is understandably protective
King Charles (with Queen Camilla in Kenya earlier this month) will celebrate his 75th birthday on November 14
By his side on many of his engagements is Queen Camilla, with whom he has a mutual understanding that they need their own space. The pair operate more as a team now then ever, but the couple still keep separate homes, friends and interests, in what friends see as a ‘sensible and pragmatic’ approach to the stresses of royal life. Returning from foreign tours, where they have often been living and working together 24/7, it’s not uncommon to see ‘his and her’ cars waiting on the runway to take them off to their respective country boltholes for some well-deserved downtime.
Camilla will enjoy a few days with her family and friends, and Charles will potter in his beloved gardens or on the farm. And at Windsor Castle or Birkhall, their Scottish estate, it’s not unusual for them to sit reading companionably – in separate wings.
‘It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that time apart really works for them,’ one insider says. ‘They are better for it.’ And as Charles considers his own legacy, what about his son and heir?
There will no doubt have been a wry smile on the King’s face this week when Prince William told journalists in Singapore he wanted to ‘go a step further’ than other royals by creating real change, rather than simply ‘highlighting’ good causes.
‘But don’t all kids tell their parents how they could do it so much better than they did in the olden days!’ laughs a friend.
William, like Harry, was previously hostile towards what he regarded as his father’s media ‘spin machine’, his youthful shouting matches with the King permeating even the thick Palace walls.
Now a father himself, William is far more understanding of his ‘Pa’. And the benefit of Charles being at Windsor more, particularly at weekends, is that he has been able to spend more time with his grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
The King and Queen (in Paris in September) operate more as a team now then ever, but the couple still keep separate homes, friends and interests, in what friends see as a ‘sensible and pragmatic’ approach to the stresses of royal life
‘Has His Majesty made mistakes when it comes to parenting? Yes. Would he privately admit he could have done some things better, or at least differently? Of course,’ a source says.
‘But while I am sure they still don’t agree on everything all the time, he and the Prince of Wales are firmly united now around a common shared interest, which is to keep the institution in a place where it can serve the nation.
‘This was happening anyway as the late Queen got older, but there’s no doubt what happened with Harry brought everything into sharp relief.’
The latter is a subject that still brings His Majesty ‘great pain’. I am told there is currently ‘barely any level of communication’ between Charles and Harry.
There is undeniable anger at the anguish the King believes Harry caused the late Queen in the last years of her life, not to mention the insults he has heaped upon his own wife Camilla, of whom Charles is understandably protective.
Charles is a man who notoriously hates confrontation and will never close the door on his younger son. But sticking to his guns, he has rejected Harry’s demands for an ‘apology’ and put the whole issue to one side for the time being as he concentrates on the business of state.
Much has been made this week of whether his younger son has been formally invited to his private birthday celebration next Tuesday. In fact, he has not. But I can reveal the event is just a small, intimate dinner in London for close friends in any case.
Hardly any family members will be present, in line with the King’s diktat that he just wants it to be an average day. ‘There’s a lot of hurt on both sides, but time is a healer. For now it is baby steps forwards,’ said one informed observer. ‘It’s very sad His Majesty doesn’t get to see his son or his grandchildren, but there’s no rush to patch things up.’ For now, there’ll be just enough time on Tuesday for His Majesty to raise a glass of English sparkling wine (organic, no doubt), before those red boxes beckon him once again.
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