As well as supporting The Queen in fulfilling her role as Head of State and acting as a charitable entrepreneur, The Prince of Wales also seeks to promote and protect the country’s enduring traditions, virtues and excellence.
Among other things, this work involves:
- Highlighting achievements or issues that, without his support might otherwise receive little exposure;
- Supporting Britain’s rural and farming communities;
- Promoting tolerance and greater understanding between different faiths and communities;
- Protecting the Arts and championing traditional craft and heritage skills.
Throughout their many engagements each year The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall meet people from all walks of life.
The Prince’s work aims to promote and protect what is good about Britain and its people. This will often involve The Prince acting personally as a catalyst to facilitate change, to generate debate, or to raise overlooked issues.
Over the years The Prince of Wales has personally founded a number of charities and initiatives after he identified an issue and thought of a way in which he could help. These charities have worked in a wide spectrum of areas including supporting the UK’s farming community, encouraging further debate on issues such as the environment and highlighting the need for quality, affordable housing.
In all these areas, The Prince aims to encourage a public debate over what he sees as vital issues to the health of the nation while avoiding party political issues.
When issues become a matter for party political debate or the subject of Government policy, The Prince stops raising them publicly.
The Prince of Wales has worked for many years to encourage inter-faith dialogue, greater understanding of different religions both in Britain and abroad.
The Prince was christened in December 1948 at Buckingham Palace and confirmed at Windsor Castle in 1965. His Royal Highness chose to begin the day of his 21st birthday by taking Holy Communion in the chapel of the Tower of London.
As Heir to The Throne, The Prince of Wales is also Heir to the Sovereign's special role, dating back to the 16th Century, as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The Prince of Wales is a practising Anglican and attends church regularly with The Duchess of Cornwall. He frequently meets senior members of the Anglican Church. In March 2013, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral.
The Prince has long called for an acknowledgement of the strengths of other religious traditions, and for greater mutual understanding amongst the adherents of the world's different faiths. In 1994 The Prince said: "I personally would rather see it [his future role] as Defender of Faith, not the Faith”.
The Prince clarified this further in an interview in 2015, explaining that “I mind about the inclusion of other people’s faiths and their freedom to worship in this country and it’s always seemed to me that while at the same time being Defender of the Faith you can also be protector of faiths.”
His Royal Highnesses has undertaken a number of visits to meet communities from a wide variety of faiths. His Royal Highness has also highlighted the plight of Christians living in the Middle East, visiting those communities both in the region itself and in other parts of the world.
On Good Friday in 2018, The Prince of Wales sent a message of support to those persecuted for their faith.
The Prince is profoundly attached to the traditional rites of the Church of England and to the Book of Common Prayer, which he described in 1989 as having survived because it was "sensitive to the profound human need for continuity and permanence"
In 2011, as Patron of the Bible Society’s 2011 Trust celebrating 400 years since the completion of the King James Bible, The Prince helped lead the nation in celebrations. The Prince took part in various projects and events to celebrate the anniversary including hosting a reception at Clarence House, attending a service at Westminster Abbey with Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and 2,000 worshippers from around the country.
His Royal Highness is also Patron of a number of organisations that help maintain the vibrancy of church communities and preserve places of worship as well as organisations which encourage an understanding of other faiths.
In January 2020, The Prince, in his role as Patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, spoke at the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The Prince's work to promote inter-faith dialogue has often overlapped with his efforts to support ethnic communities throughout the United Kingdom.
While travelling around the country, His Royal Highness meets with Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and people from other faiths and ethnic communities and has always been greatly impressed by the solidarity and vibrancy of those that have made the effort to share and learn from one another.
The Prince’s Trust, founded by The Prince in 1976 to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people, also seeks to help minority ethnic communities, recognising the social exclusion and poverty they often face. The Trust runs a number of specific initiatives directly targeted at improving the employment opportunities of these communities, both in the UK and internationally.
In 2018, The British Asian Trust, established by The Prince of Wales to help communities in South Asia, celebrated its 10th anniversary.
As a farmer himself, The Prince of Wales cares deeply about the countryside and the welfare of rural communities.
Maintaining a healthy agricultural sector is vital to the country, not just because the landscape relies on the accumulated knowledge of farming communities for its continued stewardship, but also because the social fabric of the countryside depends on a strong farming base.
The Prince’s belief in the importance of the family farm in agriculture has led him to form a number of initiatives to help readdress the problems faced by communities in the countryside.
The Duchy of Cornwall
As Duke of Cornwall, The Prince is responsible for the management of the Duchy of Cornwall, a landed estate with many tenant farmers. He is Chairman of The Prince's Council, the Duchy’s supervisory body. The Prince puts a high priority on safeguarding the interests of Duchy tenants, and on long-term environmental stewardship, and regularly visits farms and tenants.
The Prince runs the Duchy Home Farm on the Highgrove Estate, a fully functioning organic farm. It acts as a showcase for organic farming and regular tours are run for those thinking of converting to organic land management, supermarket buyers and others with an interest in the practicalities of organics. The Prince founded Duchy Originals in 1990 to show that there was a market for organic products created using the principles of sustainable production. Duchy Originals grew to become established as a leading organic and natural food, going into partnership with Waitrose in 2010. The brand operates separately from the Duchy of Cornwall and all profits accrued to His Royal Highness are used for charitable causes through The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.
Patronages and initiatives
The Prince is Patron or President of a number of organisations that seek to preserve rural communities and protect British agriculture including Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, Dry Stone Walling Association, Lleyn Sheep Society, National Hedgelaying Society, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, and the Welsh Black Cattle Society.
He is also Patron of the Soil Association and Garden Organic, both of which encourage organic farming and gardening.
The Prince’s concern for farmers all over the UK has led to His Royal Highness starting several initiatives to promote the produce of certain areas in the hope of increasing farmer’s incomes and preserving their way of life.
To that end, the Campaign for Wool was launched by The Prince in 2010 to help struggling sheep farmers. The Campaign for Wool aims to promote the clear benefits of wool over synthetic fabrics and create more demand in order to help sheep farmers get a better return.
The Prince's Countryside Fund
The Prince’s Countryside Fund was established by The Prince of Wales in 2010 and exists to improve the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life. Through partnerships and events such as National Countryside Week, the charity celebrates and promotes the value of the countryside.
Since 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has given away over £10 million to more than 350 projects working across the UK which improve service provision in rural areas, support farming businesses and rural enterprises, and provide training opportunities for young people.
The British countryside is a huge natural asset, and to help ensure its future the charity works in a number of ways:
- By providing more than £1m in grant and initiative funding every year to projects across the UK that help to provide a secure future for the countryside.
- Leading projects, such as The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme which offers free business skills training to family farms across the UK. Seb from Devon said: “The Programme has provided a wealth of resources on different subjects, and provoked thought on long term issues.”
- Commissioning research into issues affecting farming families and rural communities. Over the past five years, the Fund has published seven research papers.
- Being an advocate for the countryside by bringing together individuals and businesses to help tackle current challenges.
- Working with partners to provide exciting initiatives to those from rural areas, including the Jordans Sustainable Agriculture Bursary, Morrisons Apprenticeship Levy and New Holland ‘Up to Speed’ Scheme.
- Helping communities in crisis through the Emergency Fund. Recently, this supported the Yorkshire Dales community of Reeth and Arkengarthdale when they were hit with severe flooding in August 2019.
Lincs Digital is an example of one of the projects the Fund has supported through the grant making programme, and this is what Rich, their Project Manager said:
Thanks to The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s grant we get out into the rural communities of Lincolnshire and take digital devices to them. These areas have lost a lot of services and people need to get over the fear of using the online services, and learn how to use them, and that is where we come in. We go to out to these rural areas and will be in local churches, village halls etc. and teach people how to use Digital devices and useful online services.
From a learner’s point of view, our beneficiaries have described the service as life changing or in some circumstances it has saved their lives. These people were in a position where they did not know what to do with so many local services closing and we have been able to open their eyes, and they now see a much brighter future because of it.
The Prince of Wales enjoys the performing arts, especially music, theatre and opera, and is passionate about how the Arts can benefit others.
The Prince is able to give support to organisations in the worlds of art, music and theatre - as he does in many other fields - through becoming Patron or President.
His Royal Highness is President or Patron of more than 20 performing arts organisations, including the Royal College of Music, the Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Chamber Orchestra and Music Society, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, Welsh National Opera, the Purcell School and the William Walton Foundation.
His Royal Highness is very conscious of the potential of the Arts to create opportunity and to transform lives. He founded a charity, Children and the Arts, in 2002 to help more children experience the Arts first-hand.
As a keen artist himself, The Prince also looks to champion the highest standards of artistry and craftsmanship, qualities which His Royal Highness admires in the art of the past and of the present from this country and around the world.
The Prince founded The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts, to teach the principles and techniques of the traditional arts of the world, and in 2000, he founded The Royal Drawing School to raise the standard and profile of drawing through teaching and practice.
In 2018, The Prince chose art works from both organisations, as well as Turquoise Mountain, an organisation he founded in 2006 to train traditional builders and artisans in Afghanistan, to appear in the Buckingham Palace Summer Exhibition. This special exhibition celebrated His Royal Highness’s 70th birthday.
Every year, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall travel abroad at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to further British diplomatic interests, raise the UK’s profile in the country visited and promote British excellence. The Prince of Wales also visits Commonwealth Realms on behalf of The Queen, who is head of state.
As an engaged Patron of the Arts and a keen amateur watercolourist himself, His Royal Highness likes to create a record of these tours that goes beyond the limitations of photography and often chooses a tour artist to join the tour party at his request and own expense.
Official Harpist to The Prince of Wales
In 2000, His Royal Highness recreated the historic tradition of harpists being appointed to the Royal Court, by appointing an Official Harpist to The Prince of Wales.
The appointment of Catrin Finch, a Welsh-born student at the Royal Academy of Music, recognised the importance of the harp to the culture and music of Wales, and of supporting young Welsh talent.
The current holder of the role is Alis Huws. Alis is the sixth Royal Harpist since the reinstatement of the post and was appointed in July 2019, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Investiture of His Royal Highness as The Prince of Wales.
The Royal Harpist even travels internationally, promoting the harp worldwide.
Through The Prince’s Foundation, His Royal Highness is able to draw a focus on traditional arts and heritage craft skills. The Foundation offers around 15,000 places every year on education programmes delivered in partnership with industry and academic institutions.
In 2018, The Prince met with YouTuber Joe Sugg who was previously trained as a thatcher, and featured on his Thatcher Joe YouTube channel highlighting this traditional skill.
His Royal Highness was joined again by Joe in May 2019 as he met trainees on The Prince’s Foundation’s Traditional Building Skills programme as they constructed an outdoor classroom as part of their course.
A key part of The Prince of Wales’s role is to recognise the achievements of individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to national life. This might include teachers, medical professionals, representatives of the emergency services, veterans and volunteers as well as groups and societies.
The Prince and The Duchess celebrate the achievements of these individuals in a number of ways, including visiting projects, writing letters of congratulation and hosting receptions or dinners. Groups as diverse as British Red Cross volunteers, World War II veterans, Olympians and nurses have been honoured in these ways.
When The Prince cannot attend an event in person, he will often send a message in another way, for example by writing a foreword for a programme, or a message to be read out, or by sending a video recording to be played on the day.
Finally, The Prince also presides over a number of Investitures each year at Buckingham Palace, where he, in support of The Queen, awards honours for service and achievement.