ON Saturday he will be crowned King – but to these Sun readers he already reigns supreme.
Charles has served the longest royal apprenticeship ever, and during those nearly 70 years he has waited to take the throne, he has met thousands of people all over the world.
And when we asked you, our Sun readers, to tell us your memories of the day you met our new monarch, you sent us some amazing stories of The King And I.
Here, Mike Ridley shares some of the best.
‘He didn’t get his hands dirty with the catch but had good sea legs and wasn’t sick’
IN 1980, when Wayne Flatt was 19 and the youngest crew member on the fishing trawler Junella, the boat was suddenly diverted to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.
He was then amazed to learn they would be picking up a VIP passenger – Prince Charles.
Wayne Flatt’s boat was suddenly diverted to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides to pick up Prince Charles[/caption]
Prince Charles aboard the Hull trawler Junella. with skipper Mike Keillor[/caption]
And Wayne, now 61, from Brough, East Yorks, then spent a memorable three days at sea with the man who on Saturday will be crowned King.
He recalls: “We were told Prince Charles would be sailing with us for a few days. I was just 19 and one of the last to know.
“Looking back and knowing what I know now, I think he was educating himself and doing research into something he’s very passionate about.
“The Prince arrived with his entourage of three – we presumed they were his bodyguards, and there was a photographer there too.
“We couldn’t be sure but we saw a woman waving him off from the harbour and we all presumed it was Lady Diana.
“We sailed that evening to start fishing and he was the perfect guest during his time on board. I spent a bit of time walking the deck with him where we discussed what I would like to do in the future.
“He didn’t get his hands dirty with the catch but he spent a lot of time in the wheelhouse with the captain, talking about charts and the waters.
“He had good sea legs too and wasn’t sick. The Prince, who was 31, treated everyone on board exactly the same.
“When we docked in Hull a few days later, he’d had Zippo lighters and some pewter tankards engraved for everyone on board to commemorate his visit.”
Wayne, who went on to become a safety officer in the Merchant Navy, says: “It’s not every day you get to spend a few days with the future King as a shipmate but all of us on board treasured those memories.
“Sadly, my tankard and Zippo were stolen in a burglary.”
DIANE GWILLIAM served Charles with a buffet 40 years ago – and still treasures the moment.
The Prince was there to thank staff at Cornwall College of Further and Higher Education for boosting the county’s economy.
Diane Gwilliam, centre, served Charles with a buffet 40 years ago – and still treasures the moment[/caption]
Diane, who was a catering student, says: “I’m the girl in the bow tie. What an experience for a 16-year-old.
“I am now in my 57th year and will always remember that day as if it was yesterday.”
‘The King was lovely with the children. He walked round the whole farm with them’
TEACHER Laura Stacey was invited to take a group of eight-year-old children to an inner-city farm in East London where Prince Charles was visiting in 2009.
And after they arrived at Hackney City Farm, the Prince accompanied youngsters on the whole tour.
Laura, now 81, says: “The King was so incredibly gracious and lovely with the children. He asked them all questions about their favourite animals, and he walked round the whole farm with them.
“When it came to the pigs, we were allowed into their enclosure. There was a piglet that was snoring.
“The King tapped one of the children on the shoulder and told them, ‘My father snores just like that’.”
‘He told my grandad how I had kept his ice cream for myself’
CHANTELLE KELLY was the two-year-old who refused to give the future King an ice cream.
Her mum Angela was selling ices at the Royal Cornwall agricultural show in Silver Jubilee year, 1977.
Chantelle Kelly was the two-year-old who refused to give the future King an ice cream[/caption]
Chantelle, now 47, from Reading, Berks, who works in marketing, says: “Prince Charles came past our van. He stopped and my mum offered him an ice cream.
“She gave it to me to give to him. As he held out his hand to take it, I took one look at the biggest ice cream I had ever seen and decided to take it back and lick it myself.
“He laughed and told my mum, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with that then!’ Later at a lunch, my grandad actually served him some ice cream and Charles told him what had happened earlier.”
WHEN floods devastated the Cornish fishing village of Boscastle in 2004, paramedic Mansell Thomas drove the only ambulance that reached the disaster zone where 50 people were trapped.
Mansell, now 74, recalls: “We worked through the night with the air ambulance to get patients needing emergency evacuations to hospital.”
Incredibly, everyone survived, and the future King, then the Duke of Cornwall, thanked Mansell for his bravery later.
Mansell, from Redruth, says: “He was so kind and generous and caring. He thanked us for everything we did.
“I was pretty emotional from all that had happened, but having him there and knowing he cared meant so much. He’s a really good bloke.”
LEATHER goods market traders Chris and John Pagett met Charles twice in a year – and the second time presented him with a bottle of beer.
On a freezing January day in 1996 Charles visited Dudley Market in the West Midlands to talk to traders.
Chris, 69, from Walsall, says: “The size of the crowds meant conversations were impossible, so the Prince invited traders including me and my husband to tea at his home, Highgrove, five months later.
“On the day we went to the Dudley Beer Festival first, and bought bottles of beer.
“When we arrived at Highgrove my husband offered the Prince a bottle of the beer, which he accepted, saying, ‘What does one do? In case of emergency break glass?’”
PAUL WHELBAND served on the Royal Yacht Britannia from 1967 to 1970.
He says: “I was only 22 when I started my service. I saw Prince Charles on board occasionally, but not too often.”
But as a former Royal Yachtsman, Paul, now 79, from Loughborough, Leics, was invited to Buckingham Palace garden parties several times.
He says: “My wife Elaine was desperate to meet Prince Charles but she always seemed to miss him.
“We were invited to an event at the Palace about ten years ago and she said, ‘I’m meeting him tonight, whether he wants to chat or not’.
“She finally got her wish and he shook her hand. She died in 2021 but she was so grateful to have finally met him.”
‘They walked over and started chatting. I smiled more than I did at my wedding’
DECORATOR Gareth Anderson met the King last October on his first official engagement as monarch, when he visited Dunfermline to present its official status as a city.
Gareth, 41, of Methil, Fife, says: “I’m a huge royalist and before setting off, I said to my wife Vicki, ‘I’m going to meet the King and Queen, and I bet I get on the news tonight as well’.
Gareth Anderson met the King last October on his first official engagement as monarch[/caption]
“She laughed, thinking I was mad and had no chance. I got there early to bag a good spot, waited two hours and finally the King and Queen arrived and stepped out of the royal car.
“I couldn’t believe it when they walked over in my direction and I was even more shocked when they shook my hand and started chatting.
“He patted me on the shoulder before carrying on down the line and the whole thing was caught on camera.
“I was over the moon to have met him and even more delighted that I made the teatime news.
“I was front and centre. It was just brilliant.
“I got a screen shot printed of myself and King Charles and it takes pride of place in my hall.
“My wife said I didn’t smile as much on my wedding day as I did the day I met the King.”
DAVID McCORMICK has met the new King twice.
They shared a brief handshake at an environmental event in Germany in 1980.
After the match, the Prince was introduced to David, now 84, from East Grinstead, West Sussex.
Charles then asked: “Haven’t I met you somewhere before?”
David says: “I told him we’d met very briefly at an event in Frankfurt and I recalled him coming up the river Rhine on a motor boat.
“He corrected me and said, ‘It was Cologne, not Frankfurt’.
“I was so impressed and very surprised by his incredible memory. He was absolutely right. He was so charming to everyone.”
‘I don’t know why I kissed him. I was 18 and spontaneous – it just happened’
WHEN Prince Charles approached Debra Smith on a visit to Deptford in South East London in 1978, the 18-year-old leapt forward – and gave him a huge kiss.
At the time, Charles was 29 and one of the world’s most eligible bachelors.
Prince Charles receives a big kiss from Debra Smith in 1978[/caption]
Debra, now 62, says: “I don’t know why I did it or what I was thinking. I was 18 and spontaneous. It just happened.
“He was so kind. He took my hands and squeezed them in a way that said, ‘It’s all right, don’t worry’, and then he continued up the line.”
Debra was in a local production of stage show Gypsy, and Charles was officially opening the town’s Albany Theatre.
The next day that kiss was in all the papers, and she still treasures the articles.
Debra, who still lives in South London, says: “I showed them to my 16-year-old grandson recently and he couldn’t believe I’d kissed the King.
“I remember to this day how he smelled – so fresh and lovely, like he really took care of himself.
“It’s a memory I really treasure now. There aren’t many women who can say they’ve kissed a king but I’m one.”