That was certainly the case after the birth of Prince Louis when the press focused on why Charles didn’t see his grandson in the days after the birth.
Charles has acknowledged that he doesn’t always manage to connect with the public. In an interview carried out by Harry, broadcast on the BBC in December, Charles gave the example of his warnings on the environment, which he said were initially ignored.
“There’s a whole lot of things I’ve tried to focus on over all these years that I felt needed attention. Not everybody else did,” he said. “But maybe now some years later they are beginning to realize that what I’ve been trying to say is not as dotty as they thought.”
Charles is the longest-serving heir apparent, who are traditionally given the title Prince of Wales. By contrast, his mother, Elizabeth, was only 25 when her father died and she became queen, giving her little time to make a mark outside the role of monarch.
With an official job description of “heir to the throne,” he has had relative freedom in creating his role. Charity has become his life’s work and he’s closely involved with more than a dozen organizations and foundations he started, which operate under the banner of the Prince’s Charities.
These causes include helping young people in their careers, improving teacher training and regenerating economically depressed areas. Charles also champions global sustainability.
The oldest and largest of his charities, the Prince’s Trust, has helped more than 870,000 disadvantaged young people over the years, according to the organization. It offers access to educational programs as well as loans, grants and support to start their own enterprises. Charles founded it 40 years ago with his navy severance pay of $10,000.
In the past 10 years, the charities have raised more than 1 billion pounds (around $1.4 billion in today’s dollars), according to palace officials who didn’t elaborate on how the money was raised. They declined to say how much money Charles has personally donated from his fortune to charitable work.
Last year, Charles’ income from the Duchy of Cornwall, created in the 14th century for the benefit of the Prince of Wales, was $28.1 million, according to its annual review. He also received $1.7 million from the queen’s government allowance, known as the Sovereign Grant. The money is spent on personal and official expenses for both him and Camilla, as well as his sons and their households.
Charles’ charity work, however, has not helped him shed a reputation for being pampered and out of touch with ordinary life. During an April trip to Australia, a local radio reporter asked him about longstanding rumors that he travels with his own toilet seat.
“Oh, don’t believe all that crap,” the prince responded.