King Charles appointed ranger of Windsor Great Park on first birthday as monarch

Gun salutes were fired across London to mark the occasion

King Charles leans against an ancient oak tree in Windsor Great Park. Photo: Buckingham Palace
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King Charles III marked his 74th birthday on Monday by becoming ranger of Windsor Great Park.

The new role was accompanied by a photograph of the monarch leaning in contemplation against an ancient oak tree.

He is pictured in the bright autumn sunshine in Windsor Great Park wearing a tweed blazer, tie and corduroy trousers, holding a walking stick and looking into the distance.

He follows in the footsteps of his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was the park’s longest serving ranger. The king's appointment comes 70 years after the duke took on the post in 1952, holding it for 69 years until his death last year. The duke took a very active role in overseeing the parkland and its upkeep, from designing gardens to introducing red deer in 1979. The role traces its roots back to 1559 when Sir Henry Neville was appointed ranger during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

King Charles is spending the day privately with no public engagements, but he will be working on his famous red box, dealing with his official documents such as Cabinet and State papers in his role as sovereign.

The king’s milestone was marked by the Band of the Household Cavalry performing Happy Birthday during the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday.

Gun salutes were fired across the capital in honour of his birthday, with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery firing 41 volleys from midday at London’s Green Park, and immediately afterwards the Band of the Scots Guards played in the park.

The King’s Troop is a mounted ceremonial unit in the British Army that fires salutes on royal anniversaries and major events such as state visits.

It provides a gun carriage and a team of black horses for state and military funerals.

The king spent the day before his 74th birthday leading the nation in honouring its war dead during the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in central London, the first since the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8.

His floral tribute to the fallen left at the memorial in Whitehall featured the words: “In memory of the glorious dead. Charles R”.

On Wednesday, four eggs were thrown at Charles — all of which missed — during a visit to unveil a statue in honour of the late queen at York Minster.

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Paul Sedgwick, The Crown Estate’s managing director, rural and deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park, said: “We are honoured to have His Majesty as ranger of Windsor Great Park, continuing a long tradition of the sovereign and members of the royal family holding this role.

“Windsor has a wonderful heritage with many precious natural habitats.

“His Majesty’s passion and commitment to the natural world will be invaluable as we seek to become a centre of excellence for environmental best practice, preserving and enhancing the Great Park for generations to come.”

More than 5 million people visit Windsor Great Park, which is free to enter, each year.

The post of ranger has often been held by the sovereign and other family members during the past 460 years, including Philip, who was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, and George III, George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and George VI.

When Prince Philip died, the role was taken on by the late queen during the final year of her life.

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Updated: November 14, 2022, 1:32 PM