16 Things We Learned About King Charles III That Royally Took Us By Surprise

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Vote up the most surprising facts about King Charles III. 

With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, her eldest son, Charles, became the new king of the United Kingdom. Heir apparent since 1952 when his mother became queen, Charles was dubbed the Prince of Wales in 1958 and invested in the position in 1969. 

As the individual who held that title longer than anyone else, Charles's life was always in the public eye - and under the scrutiny of the media. From his relationship with Princess Diana and his long-time affair with future wife Camilla Parker Bowles, to all of the details about Charles we saw on The Crown, we thought we knew everything there was to know. 

We were wrong.

King Charles III is a man of numerous passions, hobbies, and preferences. We dove in and found out a bunch of facts about the new monarch that caught us off guard. Take a look and vote up the ones that take you by surprise, too. 

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  • He's Got A Lot Of Hobbies, Including Magic Tricks
    Photo: Artemis989 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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    He's Got A Lot Of Hobbies, Including Magic Tricks

    Alongside Charles's musical hobbies like playing the cello, piano, and trumpet; a love of nature and gardening; and sporting events such as polo matches, the monarch has an affinity for magic. In 1975, he became a member of The Magic Circle, a group founded in 1905 that considers itself “at the forefront of the magic community in the UK and worldwide.” 

    Charles is one of four honorary life members of the group, accompanying Michael Alderman, David Berglas, and Donald Bevan as individuals who have “served the art at the highest level.” Despite honorary members having no requirement to actually do magic, Charles reportedly joined after performing a trick using cups and balls.

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    He Wrote A Children's Book Called 'The Old Man of Lochnagar'

    King Charles III has written and contributed to several books, including works on gardening, architecture, and art. One of the more notable tomes penned by the monarch is a children's book called The Old Man of Lochnagar. Published in 1980, it's illustrated by Hugh Maxwell Casson and tells the story of an old man who falls into the Loch of Lochnagar, located under the mountain of the same name in Scotland.

    The book came from Charles's own experiences telling his siblings the story when they were young. As the old man interacts with the Gorms - small people who live underground - he attempts to push his way into their world. Dave Edwards, the producer and director of a cartoon based on The Old Man of Lochnagar, described the book as a tale about “how man's selfishness or inconsideration can threaten natural habitats.”

  • Like both his mother and his father, King Charles III is a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, often said to be the inspiration for the legend of Dracula. Also called Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, he was the 15-century ruler of what would later become part of Romania and was known for his cruelty.

    The connection between Vlad and Charles has its roots in Mary of Teck, the wife and queen consort of King George V (d. 1936). She was the daughter of Francis (the duke of the principality in Germany) and Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a minor British royal. 

    Francis was a descendant of Vlad and, as a result, his children were, too. Mary of Teck was Elizabeth II's grandmother and Charles's great-grandmother. 

    Charles has taken up environmental causes in Romania, perhaps the result of his familial ties to the country. 

  • Richard Nixon Tried To Set Charles Up With His Daughter
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    King Charles III has visited the US more than 20 times and has met 10 US presidents, although not all of them on American soil. 

    When in the US in 1970, Charles and his sister, Anne, visited the White House. Once there, the future king found himself the subject of a possible matchmaking scheme. President Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia, was scheduled to spend a lot of time with Charles, including a baseball game and a formal dinner.

    At the dinner, Tricia avoided dancing with Charles by having her sister Julia (already married) dance with him instead. Charles later described the visit:

    That was the time when they were trying to marry me off to Tricia Nixon.

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    He Built An Experimental Settlement Called Poundbury

    Located in Cornwall, Poundbury is considered “an urban extension to the Dorset county town of Dorchester.” What distinguishes Poundbury from its neighbors - and from other towns and cities in England - is that it was built under the auspices of Charles III. 

    In 1987, the then-Prince of Wales began working with the Dorchester city council to develop a community using urban and rural planning ideas contained within his book A Vision of Britain (involving the principles of beauty and identity in architecture, integrated affordable housing, mixed-use buildings, and walkability). Construction on Poundbury began in 1993 and phase one was completed in 2001. The entirety of the 400-acre settlement is slated for completion in 2025.

    As of 2016, Poundbury was home to more than 3,000 people and nearly 200 businesses, but it's not without critics. The “chaotic” streets and “retirement village” look have received as much attention as its overall goals. 

  • Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor was born on the evening of November 14, 1948, weighing in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. The first child of then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, came into the world in the Buhl Room at  Buckingham Palace - the first time a royal had ever done so. 

    Around midnight, the public was told the Princess Elizabeth had given birth to a healthy baby boy. At the time of Charles's arrival, his father, Philip, was playing squash. When Philip first saw his son, he reportedly said the infant looked like a plum pudding.