In the millennium-long history of the British royal family, no heir has prepared for the crown longer than King Charles III.
He ascended to the throne Thursday after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, fulfilling a destiny placed upon him at age 3, when she became the monarch in 1952.
Charles’ wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, now has the title of queen consort.
Whereas Elizabeth was crowned at 27, Charles is 73, older at ascension than any other monarch in British history.
Charles is also now head of the Commonwealth, a postcolonial group of 54 countries comprising 2.4 billion people. He is head of state in 15 of those nations — including Canada and Australia —
The new king is a multimillionaire by birthright. His defenders say he has been the hardest-working royal, a tireless campaigner for charitable causes who fought for conservation long before such issues became fashionable, earning ridicule in a world that had not yet awakened to the looming crisis of global warming.
The new king has said he will take a different approach as monarch from his opinionated time as prince, telling the BBC in 2018 it was “complete nonsense” to suggest he would be openly political, because “I’m not that stupid.”