Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Royals in Medals #6: The Prince of Wales

Charles, HRH the Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO

Prince Charles was born on 14 November 1948, the eldest child of the then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.  At birth he was second in line to the throne and styled HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh.  On the death of his grandfather, George VI, in 1952 and the accession of his mother to the throne, Charles became heir apparent and took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.  He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 26 July 1958, though he was not invested until ten years later.  I shall blog about Charles' investiture and the title Prince of Wales another time.

He was educated at Cheam, Buckinghamshire, and then Gordenstoun, Moray, (whose harsh regime he is supposed to have disliked intensely).  He spent two terms in of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia, which started his love of Australia (in the 1970s he was touted as a potential Governor-General).  In 1967 he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied archaeology and anthropology; he also spent some time at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Charles undertook pilot training with the RAF, qualifying in jets, before joining the Royal Navy.  He served on surface ships, before qualifying as a helicopter pilot with the Fleet Air Arm.  He commanded the minesweeper HMS Bronington in 1976.

The Prince of Wales is seen as somewhat worthy heir to the throne.  Although he had enjoyed his period as 'the world's most eligible batchelor', by the time he married Lady Diana Spencer he was seen as old-fashioned and out-of-touch.  This was no doubt due to the influence of his 'uncle' Earl Mountbatten, who installed a self-image somewhat at odds with modern life.  Attempts for him to lighten up appeared (and can still appear) embarrassing and stilted. The disastrous marriage to Diana did little to improve Charles' image, and it is only in recent years with the apparent rapport he has with his sons and the support of his second wife that he is seen to have relaxed.

Prince Charles is forthright in his views, not shy of speaking out for causes he believes in (particularly in the environmental field)  He has at times been accused of interference and crossing constitutional lines.  He supports many charities, most notably through his foundation The Prince's Trust.

Honorary Military Appointments

Prince Charles has held the honorary ranks of Field Marshal, British Army, Admiral of the Fleet, RN, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force since June 2012.

United Kingdom
Colonel-in-Chief, Parachute Regt

Several of these units (indicated by the span dates of Charles' appointment) are no longer in existence.
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales,1969–2006
  • Colonel, Welsh Guards
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Cheshire Regiment, 1977-2007
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Gordon Highlanders, 1977-1994
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles), 1977-1994
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, 1985-1992
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Dragoon Guards
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Gurkha Rifles
  • Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons), 1994-2006
  • Royal Honorary Colonel of the Queen's Own Yeomanry
  • Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen's Dragoon Guards
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the King's Regiment, 2003-2006
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), 2003-2006
  • Royal Colonel of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Royal Colonel of the 51st Highland, 7th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Colonel in Chief of the Mercian Regiment
  • Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Brawdy, 1977-1992
  • Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Valley
  • Commodore-In-Chief of Plymouth, Royal Naval Command
  • Honorary Commodore of Her Majesty's Coastguard
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Armour Corps
  • Colonel-in-Chief of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Canada
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Dragoons
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Toronto Scottish Regiment (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Own)
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Air Reserve Group
  • Honorary Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

In the uniform of the Royal Pacific Islands Regt
New Zealand
  • Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force
Papua New Guinea
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment

Orders, Decorations and Medals


Order of the Garter
Royal Knight, 1958.  Prince Charles automatically became a member of the order on his installation as Prince of Wales, but was not installed until 17 June 1968.

Order of the Thistle
Extra Knight, 1977

Order of the Bath
Great Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross (GCB), 1975

Order of Merit
Member, 2002

Commonwealth Orders

Australia.  Order of Australia
Knight (AK), 1981
As Charles was not an Australian citizen, his appointment would have required the award to be honorary. As future sovereign of the order, this was felt to be inappropriate.  To overcome this issue, an enabling amendment to the constitution of the order was made. Hence, the Prince of Wales is a full member in the General Division, not an honorary appointment (as is the Duke of Edinburgh).

New Zealand.  Queen's Service Order
Extra Companion (QSO), 1983

Grand Commander: Star, Obverse

Malawi.  Order of the Lion
Grand Commander, 1985

SaskatchewanOrder of Merit
Hon Member (SOM), 2001

Papua New GuineaOrder of Logohu
Royal Chief, 2005

Commemorative Medals

 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953  
File:Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ribbon.png  Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png  Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal 2002
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012
New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal ribbon.png  New Zealand Commemorative Medal 1990
Independence Medal (Fiji) ribbon.png Fiji Independence Medal 1970
PNG Independence Medal.png Papua New Guinea Independence Medal 1975
  Nepal, King Bihendra Coronation Medal 1975
The Netherlands, Queen Beatrix Inauguration Medal 1980

Long Service Awards

CD-ribbon.png  Canadian Forces Decoration (CD), with two clasps, 1982
File:New Zealand Armed Forces Award ribbon.png New Zealand Armed Force Award, 2012

Wearing insignia of the Order of St Olav (Norway)
Foreign Awards

Diana, Princess of Wales


Diana Frances Spencer was born on 1 July 1961 at Sandringham, Norfolk, fourth child of Viscount Althorp (who became 8th Earl Spencer in 1975).  Her family was particularly disfunctional, and Diana had a unhappy childhood both before and after the divorce of her parents. 

The Spencers  rented a home on the Sandringham Estate, and Diana was a playmate of Princes Andrew and Edward.  Prince Charles had a relationship with Diana's sister, Sarah.  Her engagement to the Prince of Wales was announced in February 1981, and they were married in St Paul's Cathedral by Archbishop Runcie on 29 July 1981.

The couple had two children:-
Diana was a devoted and demonstrative mother, traits which did much to boost her popularity with a public used to the public coolness displayed by the royal family.  In many respects, she was a breath of fresh air.  She was an extremely active member of the royal family until her separation from Prince Charles in December 1992, after which she reduced her official duties.  However, these did continue until her death and, in addition, she used her high profile in support of charities and other causes close to her heart.

Despite the official announcement of their separation describing it as 'amicable', this was far from the case.  Charles and Diana had been ill-suited on many levels, and difficulties had soon arisen.  Both had affairs, and each blamed the other for the break-up of the marriage - a battle of proxies soon started in the press.  Negotiations for divorce were started in 1995 and finalised in August 1996.  As part of the settlement, Diana lost the style 'Her Royal Highness', but remained a Princess of the United Kingdom.

Diana was killed on 31 August 1997 following a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris.  Her death was followed by an outpouring of public grief.  Her funeral took place on 6 September 1997 in Westminster Abbey, and she was buried in the family estate at Althorp.
With the Royal Family Order and the Order of the Crown

Honorary Military Appointments

  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
  • Colonel-in-Chief of the Light Dragoons
  • Honorary Air Commodore, RAF Wittering

Orders, Decorations and Medals


Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II

Foreign Awards


Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla Rosemary Shand was born on 17 July 1947, the daughter of Maj Bruce Shand, MC, and the Hon Rosalind Cubitt (eldest child of Roland Calvert Cubitt, 3rd Baron Ashcombe).  Much has been made of the fact that her maternal great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was one of King Edward VII's long-term mistresses.

She was educated in London, Switzerland and Paris, and came out as a debutante in 1965.

Camila and Prince Charles started a relationship in 1970, and Charles is reported to have wanted to marry her, being dissuaded by Louis Mountbatten, who had his own dynastic hopes.  In July 1974 she married Major Andrew Parker Bowles of the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) and a former boyfriend of Princess Anne.  The wedding was attended by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne.  Parker Bowles was later Lt-Col Commanding the Household Cavalry (Silver Stick in Waiting to HM the Queen) and, from 1990, a brigadier.  The couple had two children and divorced in 1995; Camila and Charles had renewed their relationship in the late 1980s.

Camilla's role as Charles' mistress became public knowledge in 1992, the Princess of Wales famously declaring that 'there had been three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded' and she became a hate-figure, particularly in the hysteria following Diana's death.  Prince Charles however, declared that their relationship was 'non-negotiable' and the couple settled into an unofficial partnership.  After a period of 're-habilitation' following Diana's death, it was announced in February 2005 that the couple were engaged.  The marriage took place on 9 April 2005 with a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall followed by a religious blessing at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Following  the marriage, Camilla became de jure Princess of Wales, but chooses not to use the title 'out of respect' to her predecessor, and instead uses the feminine form of her husband's highest-ranking subsidiary title, the Duke of Cornwall.  The question of Camilla's title was the subject of some controversy among the followers of Diana and the tabloid press: this extends to the title she will use if Charles succeeds to the throne, and it is the currently stated intention that she be styled 'Princess Consort' (though, of course, she will be de jure queen consort).

Camilla has proved herself adept in her royal role and as companion and support to her husband.

Honorary Military Appointments

United Kingdom
  • Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion of The Rifles
  • Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Halton
  • Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Leeming
  • Commodore-in-Chief of the Naval Medical Services
  • Commodore-in-Chief Naval Chaplaincy Service
  • Lady sponsor of HMS Astute
The Duchess of Cornwall visits The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
Inspecting the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Royal Australian Corps of Military Police
  • Colonel-in-Chief, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

Orders, Decorations and Medals


Royal Victorian Order
Dame Grand Cross (DCVO), 9 April 2012

Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
30 October 2007

Commonwealth Orders

Papua New Guinea.  Order of the Star of Melanesia
Companion (CSM), 3 November 2012

Commemorative Medals

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012
SCM ribbon.png  Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan 2005

Edit - 14 Nov 2012

New Zealand Armed Force Award added to Prince Charles awards.


  1. Brilliant collection of photos - thanks for posting!

  2. I just want to note, why isn't Prince Charles a GCVO like his 2nd wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall? Anyway brilliant posting and fantastic pictures keep up the good work!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Sorry, a website reorganisation has broken one of your image links. The Grand Commander Star of the Order of the Lion of Malawi is now at https://www.medals.org.uk/malawi/images/malawi001-05.jpg - it's unlikely to change again but it's better practice to download a picture you want to use & upload it to your own site rather than link to it where it is. Image credit should be: Medals of the World.


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