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When we think about the British royal family, we think of opulence, castles, crowns and tiaras, corgis — the works. The storied monarchy has been the Commonwealth’s rulers for centuries now, and their presence, while non-governmental these days, has always been associated with wealth, power, and influence. While the current crop of royals don’t weigh in often when it comes to political or social issues, the monarchy has been known to help steer the country in times of peril — just think of how many prime ministers Queen Elizabeth has worked with during her reign.
Speaking of the queen, the historic monarch has shown the Commonwealth — and the world — time and time again that she is up to the task, despite her age and amount of time spent on the throne. And while many are hoping that the queen’s reign will live on, preparations are being made and steps are already being taken to prepare for the transition of power. Of course, the throne will go to Elizabeth’s eldest son, Prince Charles, who by all means has a very different outlook on royal life.
While the queen has gotten down and dirty (she was even a mechanic during World War II), Charles grew up as heir apparent, and his life has certainly been charmed. But you’ll be stunned to learn just how opulent his comings and goings really are.
Prince Charles has specific bedtime-related demands
They say that the best days start with a good night of sleep, and it seems as though no one knows this better than Prince Charles. While many of us are happy to jump into an unmade bed in an oversized T-shirt we’ve had since high school, the heir to the British throne has a few more specifications. And, as you may have guessed, his wishes are carried out by his staff (of which we’ll detail a bit further on). As confessed by Paul Burrell, Diana Spencer’s former butler, in the Amazon documentary, "Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm," Charles has a number of bedtime-specific demands, including the ironing of his pajamas. Yes, the clothes that he sleeps in — which surely get wrinkled in the night — are pressed every day.
Furthermore, in the documentary "Queen of the World," household master Christine MacIntyre admitted that Charles also requires his bedsheets to be ironed, too. Each sheet can take up to an hour to press, adding to the frivolity of the heir’s bedtime routine.
"There are special sheets that are used for members of the royal family and they’re kept aside and brought out on only those special occasions when they’re here," MacIntyre said.
Prince Charles reportedly had never encountered this common household item
The Amazon documentary, "Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm," really is the inside-perspective gift that keeps on giving, as it was revealed that Prince Charles’ way of life has resulted in a staff-given nickname. Apparently, the staff of Clarence House — where Prince Charles resides — call the heir the "pampered prince," and this next example of his lavish lifestyle surely doesn’t help his cause.
In the book "Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion, and Defiance of Prince Charles" — excerpts published by Express – author Tom Bower revealed one of the most opulent interactions we’ve come across in our research. As it turns out, Charles did not know what cling film (and/or plastic food wrap, depending on where you are) was. No, we’re not kidding. After asking staff to "leave food out for him to eat later" in the day, Charles reportedly let out a "shriek" upon discovering the leftovers, prompting his wife to run to the kitchen for assistance.
The heir was allegedly "frightened upon encountering the cold meats covered by the unknown product," prompting him to ask Camilla Parker Bowles what the product was. "It’s cling film, darling," she said, as noted in Brown’s book.
The royal has specifications about his clothes, but it comes with a catch
While you’re recovering from that admission about plastic cling wrap, let us present you with another lavish frivolity. As noted by Express, former butler Paul Burrell shed some light on Prince Charles’ clothing habits, revealing that his specifications are narrowed down even to the status of his shoelaces. Like his pajamas, Charles reportedly insists on having his laces "pressed flat with an iron" — we’re still recovering from this one.
With an admission like that, then, you’d think that the heir to the throne would be incredibly careful with how he treats his clothes. After all, ironed shoelaces certainly say, "I care about how I look." Well, Charles might pay attention to his appearance, but he reportedly doesn’t look after his attire.
Burrell — who was charged with stealing royal items in 2002 — brought massive attention to Charles’ lifestyle amid his trial, and it was revealed that Charles "changes his clothes five times a day" and leaves his expensive clothes thrown all over the floor wherever they land, with the expectation that one of his valets will clean up after him. "It is then their job to make sure the clothes are washed and returned to the correct place in his mahogany wardrobes," it was revealed, per The Guardian.
For someone who supports environmentalism, Charles isn’t exactly eco-friendly
While Prince Charles is known for being the heir apparent, for his relationship with Princess Diana, and for his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles who subsequently became his wife, he is also known for being a vocal supporter of environmental causes. In fact, the issue is so close to his heart that the royal has an entire section of his official U.K. government-sanctioned website, Prince of Wales, dedicated to it, expressing that for more than five decades, the prince has "used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future."
That’s all well and fine, but it turns out that Charles’ actual lifestyle may be the farthest cry from environmental consciousness out there. The Daily Beast put together a list of very expensive habits and hobbies the prince indulges in, and as it happens, Charles’ personal travel habits are very harmful to the environment. For example, during a European tour in which he made climate change a defining aspect, Charles flew on a private plane, resulting in a carbon footprint of 52.95 tonnes. The Daily Beast was quick to point out that if the heir had simply traveled on a commercial plane, he would’ve decreased his carbon footprint by 95%. Yikes.
The future king allegedly travels with his entire bedroom set in tow
Speaking of travel, The Daily Beast also included a fascinating tidbit about Prince Charles’ habits — the 2018 to 2019 report, detailing his and Camilla Parker Bowles’ travel expenses, shows that the pair spent about $1.7 million on vacationing, of course contributing to the carbon footprint of 3,344 tonnes stemming from the entire royal family. If that wasn’t eye-boggling enough for you, author Tina Brown asserted that the heir apparent is very specific about his travel habits, even demanding that his entire bedroom set be transported to any guest residence. In her book, "The Palace Papers," Brown revealed that when traveling — even if just to a home in the countryside with friends — Charles expects his full bedroom set to be transported and set up.
"When he traveled to stay at friends’ country houses, a truck arrived the day before, bringing his bed, furniture, and even pictures," Brown wrote, the excerpt noted by Page Six, "which his pampering aide Michael Fawcett ensured would be hung in his allotted bedroom in place of the possessions of his host." So next time you feel a bit silly about packing your special pillow in your suitcase because the hotel ones don’t cut it … well don’t.
Prince Charles’ estate is surprisingly tax exempt
Okay, we’re going to throw some "Bridgerton"-Esque language your way, so buckle up. Prince Charles has about a million official titles, and one of them is the title of Duke of Cornwall. As such, he has a dukedom — or a "duchy" — that he oversees and can profit from. A dukedom can consist of a number of assets, such as investments, land, and more. Think of the Duke of Hastings‘ massive home, the land he oversaw, the people he employed, all that jazz. Are you still with us? Okay, good.
Now a duchy is technically considered — by the British government — as a "crown body," essentially designating it from your typical organization, per the U.K. National Archives. As such, Charles’ duchy qualifies for a tax exemption, and as noted by The Guardian, the dukedom has allowed the heir to the throne to significantly profit off of the assets. One of the most significant assets unique to Charles’ duchy is his supermarket investments, which granted him a yearly income of almost $24 million. From there, the money he received was funneled to his family members and his "official duties," and anything that was leftover was then taxed. So, if you’re following along, Charles essentially profits off his duchy and doesn’t pay any taxes until after he’s dished a good chunk of it out.
The royal has very specific food requirements
Phew, we’re moving from the complex world of dukedoms to the basic world of breakfast food, so feel free to put your dictionary away. As it happens, Prince Charles is very particular about the food he ingests on a daily basis, and when the news about his peculiarities broke, it actually bunched the royal’s briefs into a knot. As noted by The Guardian, television presenter Jeremy Paxman revealed that Charles is partial to a boiled egg for breakfast, but not just any boiled egg. Apparently, the firmness of said oeuf has to be just right that seven eggs are prepared at varying levels of cooked. We’re not kidding.
"Because his staff were never quite sure whether the egg would be precisely to the satisfactory hardness, a series of eggs was cooked," Paxman revealed. "If the prince felt that number five was too runny, he could knock the top off number six or seven."
Apparently, Charles did not like that his egg-related habits were spilled to the press because in a very rare move, his spokesperson put out a statement rebuking the story as reported by the Evening Standard. However, the prince’s egg specifications were then bolstered by a former housekeeper who served Charles for almost a decade.
The prince has not one, but two people dress him every morning
Raise your hand if you have a very specific way of getting dressed. It may sound a bit peculiar to those who just throw on anything that’s clean (even if it’s on the floor), but some of us like an order to it all. There are the socks first, then underwear, then T-shirt doers among us, while others (especially those who wear makeup) might put on their shirt first, head to the mirror, and then come back to the closet to finish the look. Either way, we all have a system, but Prince Charles might have us all beat when it comes to the lavishness of his getting ready habits.
During an appearance in the documentary "The Madness of Prince Charles," royal expert and biographer Anthony Holden revealed that the prince has not one, but two people dress him every morning. Glamour further exposed that Charles does not remove his own clothes either.
"Charles, for all his attempts to find out how the other half lives and interest in the less fortunate in society, for all that, he has two men, paid for by the state, to help him get dressed in the morning," Holden shared.
Prince Charles reportedly demanded that a valet help him with a cringe-worthy task
Going to the doctor is never a super fun thing to do, so sometimes it helps having a friend or family member go with you, right? Well in Prince Charles’ case, his doctor visit is yet another example of just how lavish his life is, and this tidbit is again thanks to Paul Burrell aforementioned theft trial in which a plethora of information about the heir’s personal life was revealed. As it turns out, Charles was quite close to a former head valet of his, Michael Fawcett. Their bond was probably helpful, in this case, when Fawcett held a specimen bottle for the prince when he was required to give a urine sample at the doctor’s office. We’ll just give you a minute for that to sink in, and you can thank The Guardian for giving up that little piece of information.
Now granted, at the time, Charles was dealing with a broken arm so we’re not entirely sure if he would’ve made Fawcett perform the … interesting task if both arms had been available for use. But given that Charles doesn’t dress himself, we’re thinking that the valet’s presence would’ve been an aspect of the physician’s visit either way.
The royal’s car collection is truly high-end
Perhaps no other physical object — or asset, in this case — is more reflective of wealth and lavishness than a car, and if you’re Prince Charles, well the motoring world is your oyster. As noted by GQ, the heir to the throne has not one, not two, but three Aston Martin vehicles (and if you’re a "James Bond" fan, then you know exactly what kind of car we’re talking about). The first model was given to the prince by his mother, Queen Elizabeth, for his 21st birthday. The second was also a gifted car, presented to Charles by the Emir of Bahrain. But it’s his third Aston Martin, the 1994 Virage Volante, that we want to pay special attention to.
GQ noted that this car in question was Charles’ choice mode of transportation in the 1990s, and unlike his other two Astons, he did pay for this one. The heir signed a 15-year lease on the car, made some modifications, and used it as his everyday way to get around. What were some of the said modifications? Well, Charles had the car equipped with a police radio, an additional rearview mirror, and (get this) a custom-created leather jar where he would store sugar cubes to feed his polo ponies.
You won’t believe how many people serve on Prince Charles’ personal staff
With all of Prince Charles’ specifications — some of which having been presented here — you’re probably wondering how much money the prince has and how many staff members it takes to upkeep his lifestyle. These are all questions we had, too, so we went to the money source – Forbes.
The storied financial magazine laid out Charles’ income from his duchy (you now know what that is!) as well as his earnings from the Sovereign Grant. Collectively, Charles sits on millions of dollars (or pounds, in this case) per year, and a good chunk of it goes towards maintaining his staff. In 2020, for example, the duchy had a $50 million revenue turnover, with more than half of that money going directly to Charles’ family and to himself, obviously. Of that about $30 million, $7.3 million went straight to the heir’s personal staff — and yes we know that number is just absolutely bonkers. His staff, meanwhile, is 132 persons strong, and when we think about the Clarence House cadre, we basically envision a small royal army.
The royal has his mornings catered to every specific need
There’s no doubt about it — a morning routine can be a game-changer. If you adjust your day and really start off the morning with intention, everything that comes after can be just a tad easier. Who doesn’t want that? Well, Prince Charles certainly appears as though he sticks to a morning schedule, but his might be a bit more over the top than ours.
"Royal Servants," a two-part behind-the-scenes film uploaded to YouTube, detailed Charles’ daily wakeup habits. Thanks to the film, royal reporter Clive Goodman, and Express, we finally know what the heir to the throne does when he first wakes up in the morning.
"The Prince of Wales, he doesn’t lift a thing," Goodman started out, clearly addressing the lavish elephant in the room. "He gets up in the morning, his bathrobe is there waiting for him; he walks into the bathroom, the bath is drawn for him already. Even when he gets out of the bath, the towel is folded in a special way so he just has to sit in it and wrap it around him." To be honest, that sounds great.
Prince Charles has specific bathroom-related demands
There are even more bathroom-specific expectations that Prince Charles has, so many we had to dedicate a whole section of this story to it. While the prince’s bath, towel, and robe situation has been covered, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As per Express, Paul Burrell (who clearly loves to dish about the royal family), revealed that when it comes to Charles’ daily soak in the tub, "The bath plug has to be in a certain position and the water temperature has to be just tepid." If that wasn’t enough, a member of the prince’s staff then "squeeze[s] one inch of toothpaste onto his toothbrush every morning," because apparently rolling up the toothpaste tube to get the goods out and onto the brush is just asking too much.
Here’s something that might make you cringe inside just a little bit, too. Tina Brown revealed in her book, "The Palace Papers," that Charles has very specific toilet needs to enhance his experience on the metaphorical throne, and goes one step farther than most and has his toilet seat taken on vacation with him. Brown disclosed that valet Michael Fawcett would account for the "paraphernalia" that Charles would travel with, "including the Prince’s … lavatory seat, and Kleenex Velvet lavatory paper," per Page Six.
The queen reportedly has strong opinions about Charles’ lavish lifestyle
This was a lot, thanks for making it to the end. If you’re feeling a little icky just given the opulence of Prince Charles’ lifestyle, you’re not alone. In fact, The Guardian detailed that Queen Elizabeth herself reportedly has choice thoughts about her son’s lavish way of life. Have you ever been around someone who just exudes wealth and grandeur and all you want to say to them is, "Who do you think you are, the queen of England?" Well, you might want to reframe that saying and sub in "Prince Charles" instead.
As The Guardian noted, the queen allegedly believes that the "amount of kit and servants [Charles] takes around is grotesque," and while her own staff is much bigger than her son’s, we doubt she has her shoelaces ironed every day.
It is believed that when Charles takes the throne, he will significantly downsize the royal family, according to British Heritage, and will be far pickier about who gets access to royal perks. If this is true, perhaps he’ll have even more lavish specifications when he assumes the throne.