Charles was educated at Bradfield College, Berks followed by Balliol College, Oxford and the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London. He is a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Before being elected to the European Parliament in 1999, Charles worked for several years as a Consultant Psychiatrist in London and was a Senior Lecturer at University College Hospital. Although he had successfully combined political work with medicine while acting as a Councillor in his local Earls Court ward (1998-2000), he was obliged to give up his practice on taking office in Brussels.
Having spent his childhood living in various European cities, Charles is fluent in Portugese, Spanish, French and Italian. He has travelled extensively in South America and Eastern Europe and written political pamphlets as well as extensive publications in the medical literature.
Charles was the deputy leader of the EP Observer mission to the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential elections. The negative findings of this joint mission with the OSCE were a significant factor in mobilising international support for Viktor Yushchenko's "Orange Revolution". He takes a keen interest in enlargement issues.
He is involved politically in a number of cross party Parliamentary groups working to support sufferers from epilepsy, cervical cancer and mental illness. He is a member of the European Cancer Patient Coalition and the EP Intergroup on Animal Welfare, a former Vice-President of the European Friends of Israel and a member of Friends of Tibet. Charles was Founder of the EP Friends of India, a founder member of the EP Friends of the Commonwealth, a member of the advisory board of the EU Friends of Armenia, honorary EP Parliamentary Adviser to Save the Assyrians Campaign and Anglicans for Israel, and the UK Friends of Falun Gong. He is on the Executive Committee of the Conservative Friends of Bangladesh and an Ambassador for FRODO, a UK registered charity which helps Romanian disabled orphans. He is an EP Attachment Host for the UK John Smith Memorial Trust and the Parliament and Industry Trust. He is Chairman of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group and the EP-Sovereign Military Order of Malta ("Knights of Malta") Friendship Group. He is the European Parliamentary adviser to the UK Overseas Territory Association. He was appointed a Commissioner for Human Rights of the UK Conservative Party in November 2011.
In the European Parliament, Charles is Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Spokesman for the UK Conservative delegation. He was elected to the UK Conservative delegation Bureau between 2005-07. He is currently a full member of the Foreign Affairs Committee - where he is also the European Conservatives and Reformist Group Co-ordinator (Spokesman)- and he is also a full member of the Human Rights Subcommittee. From 2000-2004 he served in the UK Conservative delegation Whips Office rising to Deputy Chief Whip. He was between 1999-2001 the Conservative Party Spokesman on Financial Services.
Charles is a Commendatore of the Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus of the Italian Dynastic House of Savoy, a Freeman of the City of London, and was awarded the Freedom of the City of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia in May 2006. He was created a knight of the "Order for merits” 3rd Grade of Ukraine in August 2006. In July 2009 he was awarded the Medal of Mkhitar Gosh of the Republic of Armenia and granted an honorary doctorate from Yerevan State University in 2013. In September 2010 he was created a Grand Officer of the Order of San Carlos of the Republic of Colombia for services to the country in the field of diplomacy and international relations. In May 2011 he was awarded the medal of honour by the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan (ROC) for services to parliamentary diplomacy. In November 2013 he was awarded the Presidential Order of Excellence of Georgia. In 2014 he was awarded the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon by the President of Taiwan (ROC). In 2016 he was awarded by the President of Armenia the Medal of Gratitude for his long standing services towards the international recognition of the Armenian genocide. He is married with three children.