In his youth Prince Charles was known as "Action Man," forever jumping out of airplanes, galloping around polo fields, and engaging in other feats of derring-do. Then he married the Fairytale Princess
and when that ended in tragedy his reputation crashed too. Many people turned their backs on him and his ongoing work.
He kept on as "Action Man" though, trailblazing with his charitable projects, following his own beliefs about what Great Britain needed to preserve or develop.
Prince Charles' charity work is now back in the spotlight for two reasons: First, the world is watching everything about his new daughter-in-law, The Duchess of Cambridge, including her nascent involvements with charities
, and second, London was torn apart by summer riots.
Determined to make a difference during what he foresaw as a long wait for the throne, Prince Charles set up a foundation in 1976 to help disadvantaged youth gain experience and start small businesses. This foundation, aptly titled The Prince's Trust, consistently provided seed money (microfinance, before that was a sexy term) and grew a crop of entrepreneurs. In the aftermath of the recent riots, the Prince and his Trust were on the scene
, offering support and new grants.
Famously derided as the Prince Who Talks to Plants, eco-conscious Charles has been proven right about the importance of organic gardening and farming. His latest book, Harmony
, ambitiously tackles the importance of living lightly on Earth. His international reputation
as a learned champion of sustainable agriculture is at an all-time high.
In a recent interview Prince Charles showed his practical approach to the environment. "While I believe passionately that nature should be protected for its own sake, in the end it is we humans who will be the biggest casualties of any failure to act."
Acknowledging that "people generally respond better to positive messages than negative ones," his new START program
has easy tips on how to start living in a more sustainable way.
All in all, Prince Charles is a man working on the economic underpinnings and the natural viability of the United Kingdom.
Next time: how Prince Charles and Princess Diana influenced the charitable activities of their sons, William and Harry.