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His Majesty King Charles III is celebrating turning 75 on Tuesday 14 November and typical of environmental beliefs, search for common good and his disdain for waste, he is spending part of the day launching his Coronation Food Project, which will help people facing food poverty.
Yesterday (13 November) he invited a group of other people or organisations who are also celebrating the same milestone as him, to a cream tea party at his Highgrove home, in Gloucestershire.
Later today he will host a reception at Buckingham Palace for NHS nurses and midwives and there will be ceremonial gun salutes in several locations, including at the Tower of London.
The Royal Mint has produced a commemorative coin to mark his special birthday, which for the first time has used silver that has been recycled from medical and industrial X-ray film.
It is hoped that at some point during the day the King will receive a call from his youngest son, Prince Harry, from across the Atlantic.
There is expected to be a private dinner for close family and friends later this evening.
Tackling an urgent problem
The King was never going to shirk his public service, even on such a special occasion. When he was born shortly after the end of World War 2, there was still food rationing in Britain, so he sees this latest project as hugely important.
He explained previously that it is intended to tackle the double problem of increasing numbers of people unable to afford food, while millions of tonnes of surplus food is being thrown away on a daily basis. He has been quoted as saying: “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as that of food waste.”
Whether or not the call comes from Prince Harry is anybody’s guess. The two have a difficult relationship after Harry’s damaging memoir release earlier this year, but it is still thought that the King will be pleased to share a few moments with his son and receive his best wishes.
Amongst those at his Highgrove gathering were celebrity chef Raymond Blanc and a collection of community stalwarts, who also turn 75 during 2023.
In attendance with them was Leee John of St Lucia descent and of 1980’s soul group, Imagination fame. With him was his 96-year-old mother Jessie Stephens, who is a leading figure in Britain’s Caribbean community. She was one of the Windrush generation chosen to have their portrait painted and exhibited nationally to mark their contribution to British society.
Breaking with tradition
The future King was born at Buckingham Palace on November 14, 1948, at 9.14pm by caesarean section, after Princess Elizabeth as she was then, endured a 30-hour labour. His birth was the first of a senior member of the Royal Family not to be attended by a senior politician, which was a tradition that originated in the 17th century to ensure the newborn was a genuine descendant of the monarch.
He also became the very first future king to be sent to school, rather than being educated by private tutors at home. From the age of eight he went away to Cheam School in Hampshire, which prides itself on teaching children that they should learn to live with people of different nationalities, races and religions.
Advocating for the environment
Charles would spent six years in the Royal Navy before leaving to focus on his duties as heir to the throne. He soon became known for his outspoken views on environmental protection and was an early advocate for conservation, something which has probably helped him appeal to a younger generation now he is King, along with his ability to connect with most people who he meets.
No intention of slowing down
At 75 most will be looking to enjoy their retirement years, but King Charles III is showing no signs of slowing up. Many have said that he has always been ahead of the curve, indeed often he has been seen to be so far ahead of received wisdom, that he has had to wait for it to catch up. Ideas he has been advocating for many years and were once mocked, have now become widely accepted and acted upon.
He has strong views and is never influenced by popular opinion. During uncertainty and troubled times around the world, the UK can consider themselves fortunate to have such a wise head of state, albeit in a chiefly ceremonial capacity.