On Monday, King Charles III is celebrating his 74th birthday, his first since he ascended to the throne back in September. To mark the day, Westminster Abbey rang bells, the king was honored with a 21-gun-salute, and the Household Cavalry Band played “Happy Birthday” at Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard. The palace has also released a new photograph of Charles posing by an ancient oak near Windsor Castle and announced that Charles is taking on a role held by his father, Prince Philip, for most of his life. 

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From 1952 until his death in 2021, Philip served as the park ranger of Windsor Great Park, the estate where the castle is located alongside a handful of other royal family residences. Now, 70 years later, Charles is taking on the role overseeing conservation and management of the five-thousand acres belonging to the Crown Estate.

In a statement, Paul Sedgwick, the Crown Estate managing director and deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park, said he was “honored” that Charles would be taking on the traditional role at the estate where the family has a nearly 1000-year history. “Windsor has a wonderful heritage with many precious natural habitats,” he said. “His Majesty’s passion and commitment to the natural world will be invaluable as we seek to become a center of excellence for environmental best practice, preserving and enhancing the Great Park for generations to come.”

While Philip was the park ranger, he helped oversee a program that preserved a population of red deers and also helped install a new visitor center. For decades, Charles oversaw an organic farming operation operated by the Duchy of Cornwall. Now that Prince William is taking on his father’s former estate, the new role at Windsor will be an opportunity for Charles to continue the type of environmental management he took interest in at his country home, Highgrove.

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William and Kate Middleton took to their own social media accounts to wish the king a happy birthday, sharing a photograph of Charles taken last week during a tour of Yorkshire. The Royal Collections Trust account also wished him a happy birthday on their accounts, alongside a photo of a young Charles in a stroller, kissing the hand of his sister, Princess Anne, in 1951.

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Erin Vanderhoof

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