Over the years, the Queen has become known for her poise and composure. But that all changed at the 70th birthday celebrations for her son, Prince Charles. The monarch showed another side to her personality that fans rarely get to see. And what happened during the evening brought people to tears.
Elizabeth II is the eldest daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She was born in London in April 1926 and became the reigning queen following the death of her father in February 1952. He had become the monarch after his brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
The Queen’s coronation took place in 1953, and was watched by an estimated 20 million Britons. Six years earlier, she had married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey. The couple share four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Prince Charles was born the year after his parents married, in November 1948. As their eldest child, he became first in line to the throne. He has been the longest-serving heir apparent in British history, due to his mother’s long reign.
However, Charles’ relationship with the Queen allegedly hasn’t always been as close. According to Jonathan Dimbleby’s 1994 royal biography, the prince said that it was “inevitably the nursery staff” who witnessed his first steps and taught him to play. And in 2017 author Robert Lacy claimed that the Queen preferred to leave her children with nannies while taking part in overseas duties.
“[The Queen] had been brought up in that style herself, after all, with her parents leaving her at home and entrusting her entire schooling to a governess and home tutors,” Lacy told Town & Country magazine. It has been speculated that Charles and Elizabeth may not have developed a close personal bond for this reason. And famously there were rumors that she was not a fan of his future wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, when the two dated in the 1970s.
Charles and Camilla married in 2005. But they first dated before he wed the late Princess Diana in 1981. Meanwhile, that union broke down for a number of reasons, and Charles began an affair with Camilla while still married.
When Charles becomes King, Camilla as his wife will legally be Queen. However, it was stated by Clarence House upon their engagement that she would be referred to by a lesser title instead. A statement at the time confirmed that. “It is intended that The Duchess will be known as HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.”
The Queen’s private secretary also apparently drafted a document confirming that Princesses Anne and Alexandra would not have to curtsey to Camilla in 2005. But despite the rumors of some tension between Charles and the family in the media, his mom certainly showed her love for him at his 70th birthday party.
To mark the milestone occasion in November 2018, the Queen held a private party at Buckingham Palace. Princes William and Harry, who both live at nearby Kensington Palace, were seen arriving at their grandmother’s home with their respective wives, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. The previous day, two portraits had been shared to commemorate Charles’ birthday.
The images, taken by Getty royal photographer Chris Jackson, were shot at Charles and Camilla’s home of Clarence House. Although the Queen and Prince Philip were not present, the future king posed with his wife, sons, daughters-in-law and three grandchildren, George, Charlotte and Louis. One of the candid snapshots showed the family laughing.
But the Queen’s celebrations for her son Charles were a more formal affair. And during the evening, the monarch gave a moving toast in his honor. She offered a rare glimpse of her emotional side during the speech, which was published on the official royal website.
Her Majesty told the audience, “It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up,” she added. “It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favor – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow.”
While the Queen’s words were very heartfelt, she also told a joke at her son’s expense. “My mother saw me turn 70, of course,” she said. “And she was heard to observe that 70 is exactly the age when the number of candles on your cake finally exceeds the amount of breath you have to blow them out.”
The Queen also complemented Charles’ devotion to his duties. “Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen [him] become a champion of conservation and the arts. [He is] a great charitable leader – a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history – and a wonderful father.”
The Queen finished her speech by praising Charles as a person as well as a prince. “Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative,” she said. “So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a duchy original.”
The Queen concluded, “To you Charles. To the Prince of Wales.” The toast was given to guests which included members of the British royal family and European monarchies. And the heartwarming words made some fans cry.
As Elizabeth II normally comes across as hard to ruffle, people were touched by what she had to say about her son. “I got a little teary-eyed reading the Queen’s birthday toast to Charles,” one person shared on Twitter. Another admitted they were “positively weeping,” and the speech was also called “beautiful.”
It’s unusual for fans to see or hear the Queen showing that side to herself. However, she has been seen shedding tears while attending memorial services in the past, including at Remembrance Day events. And the monarch looked devastated at the funeral of her sister, Princess Margaret, in 2002.
Now 92, the Queen is preparing Charles – and the world – for the day that he ascends to the throne. For the last two years, he has taken over his mother’s annual tradition of laying a wreath on Remembrance Day. And with her touching toast in his honor, it’s clear that the royal already couldn’t be prouder of her son.