King Charles III portrait released as he marks 74th birthday with new role once held by Prince Philip

A new photograph of the monarch leaning in contemplation against an ancient oak tree was released to mark the occasion

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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.

A new portrait of King Charles III has been released by Buckingham Palace
A new portrait of King Charles III has been released by Buckingham Palace
The Band of the Household Cavalry perform Happy Birthday at the ceremony for the changing of the Buckingham Palace Guard in London
The Band of the Household Cavalry perform Happy Birthday at the ceremony for the changing of the Buckingham Palace Guard in London

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.

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.

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

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

Gun salutes have been fired across the capital in honour of his birthday for the first time, 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 will perform Happy Birthday 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 like state visits, and provides a gun carriage and a team of black horses for state and military funerals.

An hour later the Honourable Artillery Company will fire a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

The Army’s oldest regiment has a demanding operational reconnaissance role in addition to its ceremonial responsibilities.