Royal family: Big changes lie ahead as King Charles III takes the throne

Upon the death of Elizabeth II, her eldest son, Charles, automatically became monarch. As sovereign, he chose to take the name King Charles III.

All rights and responsibilities of the Crown now rest with King Charles III.

He becomes head of state not only in the United Kingdom, but in 14 other Commonwealth realms, including Australia and Canada. He will become the head of the 56-member Commonwealth, although it is not a hereditary position, after his succession to the post was agreed by Commonwealth leaders at a meeting in London in 2018.

He became head of the British armed forces, justice and civil service, and he is supreme governor of the Church of England. He is the source of honor, which means that all honors, such as knights, will now be bestowed in his name.

The UK does not have a codified constitution, so the role of the monarchy is defined by convention rather than statute. He has a duty to remain politically impartial, which means he will face greater scrutiny if he continues to express the views he is known for.

He championed alternative medicine and organic farming techniques. In 1984, he tackled the “glass stumps and concrete towers” of modern architecture. He has spent decades warning of the dangers of climate change. In the so-called ‘black spider’ memos, he raised the issues of concern to him directly with ministers.

In a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday, Charles admitted to ruffling some feathers with his past interventions. But he promised not to meddle in controversial matters once sovereign, saying he would act within “constitutional parameters”.

Elizabeth remained “above politics” and never spoke out in any way on any issue and as a result she rarely divided opinion. She managed to retain popular and cross-party support in parliament, which was the only body empowered to dethrone her.

We will never know what she discussed in her regular audiences with her prime ministers, starting with Churchill, but Charles is a more outspoken character. Will he be silent on political issues in public but continue to lobby in private? Will the Prime Minister act accordingly?

The Prime Minister’s Audiences are one of the many constitutional tasks that King Charles III will have to tackle and they will bring him into regular contact with political decision-makers. It appoints the prime minister, opens parliamentary sessions, approves legislation and official appointments, receives credentials from foreign ambassadors, and welcomes world leaders on state visits.

What happens now that the queen is dead

Charles also took on the symbolic position of Head of the Nation, meaning he became the symbol of national identity, unity and pride. It represents continuity and celebrates excellence on behalf of the country. This is why we see the monarch opening national events and leading commemorations.

People would look to Elizabeth in times of crisis, but will they rally around King Charles III in the same way? He is more divisive not only because of his honest opinions, but also because of the bad taste that remains from his acrimonious divorce from his immensely popular first wife, Diana.

All official royal residences, including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, will now be under his control. There are also other residences such as Balmoral in Scotland and Sandringham in Norfolk which the Queen owned privately – and the nation will have to see who she leaves them to in her will.

Either way, Charles’ wealth skyrocketed. He will now receive the Sovereign Grant, which covers the cost of his official duties and is £86.3m ($99.2m) for the 2021/2022 financial year. He will take charge of the Royal Collection, which includes one of the most valuable art collections in the world. He also recovers the Duchy of Lancaster, a vast estate of over 10,000 hectares of land, prime London real estate and a portfolio of investments.

King Charles III became one of the richest men in England overnight.

Camilla

Charles and Camilla attend the Order of the Garter service at St George's Chapel on June 13, 2022 in Windsor, England.

For years, the big question around Charles’ wife has surrounded her title. At the time their marriage was announced in February 2005, the official statement read: “It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles will use the title HRH The Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales takes the throne.” It was a very clear signal that Camilla would not use the title of queen. His office at Clarence House, however, distanced itself from that statement in the years that followed, saying it was the business of the reigning monarch.

Then, in February 2022, the Queen expressed her desire for her daughter-in-law to be known as Queen Consort when Charles became King in a message marking the start of her Platinum Jubilee year – a statement that appeared to resolve the problem for good.

The queen’s wishes were met by the couple themselves. That same weekend, a statement issued by a spokesperson said they had been “touched and honored by Her Majesty’s words”.

Where will the couple live? Well, traditionally the new monarch would move into Buckingham Palace, but in 2011 the BBC reported that Charles was considering moving his entire court to Windsor and turning Buckingham Palace into an events centre. It would be a dramatic and controversial change, but it could also affirm King Charles III as the new patron.

William and Catherine

William and Catherine are pictured with their children, George, Charlotte and Louis, and the Queen, Charles and Camilla at Buckingham Palace during Platinum Jubilee celebrations on June 5, 2022.

So far Charles was responsible for covering the costs of his heir, Prince William.

William has now inherited his father’s Duke of Cornwall title, which comes with an estate that last year generated an income of £23million ($26million). This money now goes directly to William and he becomes independently wealthy.

His new title is HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge and tradition has it that, as first on the throne, he will also become Prince of Wales – but this is something the monarch will have to make a specific announcement about. If he does, Catherine becomes Her Royal Highness, Princess of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.

William and Catherine will be able to solidify their own independent tribunal, which is currently based at Kensington Palace in west London, in a flat which was refurbished shortly after their marriage. It seems unlikely that William will want to move, so the king’s former residences, including Clarence House and Birkhall in the Scottish Highlands, will likely remain vacant until Charles offers them to other family members or finds another use. The family resides at Adelaide Cottage in Windsor during school terms.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will follow the title of their parents. They are now Their Royal Highnesses Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Cornwall and Cambridge. Colloquially, they are likely to be known as George, Charlotte and Louis Wales.

Harry and Meghan

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry react as they attend the annual One Young World Summit in Manchester, northwest England, on September 5, 2022.

Charles’ second son Harry is unlikely to be offered royal office unless he and his wife Meghan return to royal duties, and the king is also expected to confirm they can continue to use Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate, which is part of the Royal Estate. They currently live with their son Archie and daughter Lilibet in California, but were allowed to continue using Frogmore as their official residence during the Queen’s reign.

When Harry and Meghan announced in early 2020 that they were stepping back from royal duties, they said they would “work to become financially independent”. The terms of the split stated that while the couple would still be part of the family, they would no longer use their HRH titles.

As the monarch’s grandchildren, Archie now automatically becomes HRH Prince Archie of Sussex while Lilibet will be HRH Princess Lilibet of Sussex. Whether they use these titles will only be known the first time their parents mention them publicly.

Prince Andrew and other family members

King Charles III also becomes responsible for distributing roles, responsibilities and resources to other members of the royal family.

Charles was never close to his brother Andrew, who stepped down from royal duties due to his ties to the late disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein. In January 2022, he was stripped of his HRH title, along with others associated with military and charitable roles. This raises the question of whether the new king continues to allow Andrew to use his Buckingham Palace apartment and offers financial support.

Then there are his other siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, and more distant relatives such as the Gloucesters and Kents who maintain royal residences in Kensington.

Princess Anne attends a service at St Giles'  Cathedral on June 30, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Charles will have to decide what family support he needs to carry out his duties and who he wants to provide it to. Then he can reveal the support he offers in return. Many of these decisions are said to have already been made and the first telltale signs of his loyalty will be seen in who gets to keep which residences and most importantly who gets an upgrade.

Anne and Edward, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are expected to continue their public duties after decades of dedicated service, but the new king must balance that against the push for a lean monarchy in these austere times.

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