King Charles celebrates birthday by following in father's footsteps

The monarch was appointed a Ranger of Windsor Great Park, a position held by his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The King has followed in his father the Duke of Edinburgh’s footsteps by becoming Ranger of Windsor Great Park.

The news was announced on Charles’ 74th birthday, and a new photograph of the monarch leaning in contemplation against an ancient oak tree was released to mark the occasion.

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

Philip was the Park’s longest serving Ranger, and his eldest son’s appointment comes 70 years after the duke took on the post in 1952, holding it for 69 years until his death in 2021.

The duke took a very active role in overseeing the parkland and was fundamental to its upkeep, from designing gardens to introducing red deer in 1979.

As the new Ranger, the King – a passionate gardener – will offer oversight and guidance to the deputy ranger and his team in the day-to-day stewardship of one of the country’s oldest landed estates.

The role traces its roots back to 1559 when Sir Henry Neville was appointed ranger during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Charles, who acceded to the throne just two months ago, is marking his first birthday as King, after leading the nation at the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph on Sunday.

He 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.

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.”

He added: “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 five 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 Philip died, the role was taken on by the late Queen during the final year of her life.

Situated south of Windsor Castle, the Park in Berkshire stretches across 5,000 acres and was once part of a vast Norman hunting forest.

It is open to the public daily and for free from dawn until dusk, and its most well-known feature is the view down the Long Walk, towards the Castle.

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

Birthday messages were also sent on the royal family’s official social media, with a post on the Prince and Princess of Wales’s Twitter account reading: “Wishing a very happy birthday to His Majesty The King!”

Gun salutes were fired across the capital in honour of the King, with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery firing 41 volleys from midday at London’s Green Park and followed by the Band of the Scots Guards also playing Happy Birthday in the park.

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