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King Charles III is busier than ever!
The King, 74, was hard at work Wednesday, hosting an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle followed by a reception at Buckingham Palace later in the day.
Charles did the honors of distributing medals in recognition of exemplary service to the U.K., marking the first time he's conducted the special ceremony since becoming King in September following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
At the morning investiture, Charles chatted and congratulated honorees previously recognized on the Queen's Birthday and New Year's Honours lists. Awardees included mystery novelist Anthony Horowitz, singer and actress Pauline Black, Paralympic sprinter and cyclist Kadeena Cox, Olympic boxer Lauren Price and Paralympic wheelchair rugby star Kylie Grimes (all three athletes have previously won gold for Team Great Britain).
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The monarch then traveled to London, where he held a reception celebrating small and medium-sized businesses. King Charles met and mingled with business professionals from around the U.K., learning more about their important contributions to local economies. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy defines small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as operations with less than 250 employees and under $52 million in turnover. Three-fifths of employees in the U.K. work for SMEs, which have weathered tough times amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Buckingham Palace festivities, King Charles spoke with business leaders who have benefitted from the support of the Prince's Trust. Charles established the charity in 1976 to provide disadvantaged youth with the resources they need to reach their full potential. The Prince's Trust has since supported more than 90,000 young people through its Enterprise Programme, established in 1983.
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It's been a busy week for the King, who turned 74 on Monday. In correlation with the special occasion, the palace announced that Charles has officially taken over a title and post from his late father, Prince Philip, as he becomes the Park Ranger of Windsor Great Park.
To mark the new role (and his first birthday as King!), Charles was photographed in the glowing autumnal light of an ancient oak in the park.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images King Charles in Windsor Great Park
Poignantly, it has been 70 years since Philip — who died in 2021 — was appointed to the role. King Charles' grandfather, King George VI, also held the position. The first ranger was Sir Henry Nevill, who was appointed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559. As Park Ranger, Charles will offer guidance to the Deputy Ranger and his team in the day-to-day stewardship of one of the country's oldest estates.
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Charles, who has already taken over running Sandringham estate in Norfolk, will put his longtime conservation and environmental interests to work in the role. The Great Park is home to a collection of veteran and ancient oak and beech trees. In 1979, Prince Philip reintroduced red deer to the Deer Park and, in 2012, a row of young native oaks — called Ranger's Avenue — was planted.
King Charles' birthday was also celebrated with a 21-gun salute in Green Park, close to Buckingham Palace, and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" played by the guards at the palace.