Villager 'euphoric' after receiving prestigious honour from The King
Charles, who lives at Rotherby, was Deputy Master of the Household and Equerry to The Queen between 1999 and her death in September last year.
And, before that, he served as Equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh for four years in the mid-1990s.
In recognition of his service, Charles was invited to Sandringham to receive the Knight Commander of the Victorian Order (KCVO) from the King, who touched a sword on both shoulders at a ceremony.
It is an award, started in 1896 by Queen Victoria, at the discretion of the sovereign and not on the advice of the Prime Minister as other honours are.
Charles (70), who was accompanied to the Royal ceremony by wife Serena, told the Melton Times: “I do feel honoured to receive it.
“We had an audience with the King at 10am, which lasted for a quarter-of-an-hour, and then came back home feeling slightly euphoric.”
His involvement with the royal household came about through his distinguished military career, which was spent mainly with the Welsh Guards, with a short period seconded with the Gurkhas in Hong Kong.
During his role with the Duke he spent a period as acting Equerry to The Queen before later taking on the full time position.
Charles recalled being at Balmoral, the family’s Scottish residence, in the final days of Her Majesty’s life.
“It was a very sad moment - as most of us did, I certainly felt I had lost a major icon in my life.
“I was up in Scotland on official duties with her at the time.
“There were people realising that she was not well and heading up to Balmoral as soon as they were told.
“In my case, I was there to effectively provide a shoulder to cry on.”
He vividly remembers the poignant final moment that he spoke to The Queen: “She died on the Thursday and the Tuesday evening was the last time I saw her.
“I was telling her that I had cancelled an event which was to take place in a few days times and I got a broad smile and a thank you before she headed upstairs.”
Charles said he felt privileged to get to know Her Majesty away from her public engagements and see the real person.
“With her privately, you saw her as a normal human being.
“A wonderful observer of all human nature, very well informed and with a marvellous sense of humour.
“The public reaction to her lying in state before the funeral didn’t surprise me because of the length of her reign and the example that she set.”
His role with The Queen involved running her household and taking care of the domestic activities, including hospitality and functions.
He also liaised with her family and friends on all non-official engagements in her diary.
Charles greeted heads of state, including British Prime Ministers, and other VIPs when they visited Buckingham Palace.
Charles explained: “You can Google me greeting Donald Trump and Melania and all the world leaders at some stage.
“Leading Nelson Mandela on my arm to see The Queen was a fond memory and I’ve been very fortunate in meeting a lot of interesting people in my time.”
He added: “If you were greeting a very senior individual you were there to put them at their ease and advise them on what was going to happen.
“To ensure they enjoyed the experience and weren’t just surprised or made to feel uncomfortable.
“Mandela was a man who epitomised charisma. He was a delightful, incredible individual.
“As he got older, he got frailer and on the very last occasion he didn’t want to come in using a cane so I supported him with my arm.”
On his role with the late Duke of Edinburgh, Charles recalled: “I really enjoyed working for him. He was an extraordinary individual.
“Incredibly intelligent and he wanted things done in the most simple and straight forward manner as possible.
“I was told by my predecessor ‘don’t flannel with him, if you are the slightest bit unsure stick your hand up and tell him immediately. If you are right, hold your ground’.
“I got on well with all members of the Royal family.
“You had the great position of having to get in touch with them to find out if they were able to come to certain things.”
He is dismissive of the Netflix drama, The Crown, which is currently airing its final series.
“I haven’t watched even a nanosecond of it because it would just annoy me,” he said.
“It’s drama and they want people to watch it and in dramatising you often depart from the truth.”
And Charles has every confidence that King Charles III will be a great successor to his mother on the throne.
He said: “He has waited for this moment.
“He is extraordinarily clear-sighted and I admire what he has set out to do as The King.
“He will be a model of duty and devotion.”
Charles and Serena, who have been married since 1978, rented a flat at Kensington Palace during his time working for the royal family, while keeping their home near Melton.
Charles added: “Rotherby has always been home for us because it is where my wife grew up.
“I’m an import but I enjoy living here.”