King Charles Celebrates His Birthday—And a New Charity Initiative—With a Visit to a Food Pantry

Tuesday marked King Charles III’s 75th birthday, and he celebrated in Didcot, a small town in Oxfordshire on an engagement with Queen Camilla. The couple traveled to the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance for an engagement to promote the Coronation Food Project, a newly announced charitable initiative, but the day kicked off with a brief visit at a nearby school.

According to the Oxford Mail, a group of schoolchildren gathered on the fields at the Aureus School when they spotted their majesties’ helicopter as it touched down. Despite the rainy weather, the king and queen greeted children, a few of whom wished him a happy birthday.

“It was wonderful to see how spirited the students were and a fantastic opportunity for our students to see the King and Queen up close,” headteacher Kirsty Rogers told the newspaper. “We were delighted that King Charles III took the time to greet the students before departing for his charity work with SOFEA, an organization who we have close affiliation with.”

During the engagement at SOFEA, the king and queen met with staff and volunteers of the food network, which serves as a distribution center for surplus goods to be distributed to community food pantries Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire. Near the end of the visit, the volunteers paused to sing “Happy Birthday” while the king waved and smiled.

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The new Coronation Food Project will support similar organizations across the country. The king announced the initiative in an essay for The Big Issue, a UK-wide newspaper that raises funds for homelessness, where he explained that he hoped the project would address sustainability issues as well.

“For many years, I have been deeply concerned about the amount of food which goes to waste across our nation,” he wrote. “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste—and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one. It is my great hope that this Coronation Food Project will find practical ways to do just that—rescuing more surplus food, and distributing it to those who need it most.”

The initiative was launched alongside the news that three of the king’s major charitable efforts would be undergoing a rebrand, settling an issue outstanding since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. On Monday, Buckingham Palace announced that The Prince’s Trust, the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund, and The Prince’s Foundation would change their names to The King’s Trust, The King’s Charitable Fund, and The King’s Foundation respectively. 

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