In 1976, King Charles—then Prince Charles—used his Navy severance pay to launch a charity called The Prince's Trust to help disadvantaged youth.
The charity is the focus of an episode of season five of The Crown, and actor Dominic West—who plays Prince Charles—offered to quit his position of ambassador with the Trust due to his role on the show. However, the King's private secretary said it was not necessary, telling West, in essence, "You do what you like, you’re an actor. It’s nothing to do with us."
As West told Radio Times, "I think that’s probably how [Charles] regards it. I’ve been in a line to shake his hand a few times and it’s fascinating. It’s very useful to meet the character you’re playing, obviously."
The episode about The Prince's Trust shows Prince Charles's desire to modernize the monarchy and connect with Britain's youth. As the fictional Prince Charles, played by West, shares, "The whole point of the Prince's Trust is to equip young people like you with the skills and the confidence to fulfill your dreams and ambitions." And this is exactly what the real life Prince's Trust does.
"We believe that every young person should have the chance to embrace exciting opportunities. So, we help 11 to 30 year-olds to find the tools and confidence to try free courses and start careers," the website now reads.
The organization received a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth in 1999, which reads that the goal of the Prince's Trust is "to promote by all charitable means the mental, spiritual, moral and physical development and improvement of young people, and to provide opportunities for them to develop to their full capacities and enable them to become responsible members of society so that their conditions of life may be improved."
When the Queen granted the royal charter, she told her son, "I would like to take this opportunity to say to you, Charles, how proud I am of everything you have accomplished with the Trust and the way you, personally, have inspired this organisation."
Over the past few decades, the Prince's Trust has helped hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people. "Over the last forty years, the work of my Trust has shown it is within our power to transform young lives for the better," Charles said in 2016 on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Prince's Trust. "I feel enormously proud that three in four young people move into work, education or training after receiving support from my Trust, and hundreds of thousands of young people have been helped since its humble beginnings back in 1976."
As of 2020, the organization shared they had supported over one million young people. Famous alumni of the Prince's Trust programs include actors Idris Elba, who was awarded £1,500 by the organization that helped him start his career, and David Oyelowo, who received a grant that allowed him to be part of the National Youth Music Theatre.
In his first speech as King, Charles III said, "My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities. It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others." Yet, he remains involved with the Prince's Trust—a cause extremely close to his heart.
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