The King’s first year as monarch has been a time of “momentous” change for Charles as he followed both in his mother’s footsteps and staged a coronation, a royal expert has said.
The former Prince of Wales – who was the nation’s longest serving heir to throne – acceded as sovereign on September 8 2022 on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
A difficult and emotional 11 days followed as the London Bridge plans swung into action, with a lying in state, vigils, and a grand state funeral, all played out on a public stage.
Charles, who became a fledgling monarch at the age of 73, finally took on the role he had been groomed for since birth.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said: “Clearly it’s been a momentous first year for King Charles III.
“Not only losing his mother, but he’s had to follow in her footsteps and also incorporate a coronation into the first year.
“This hasn’t previously happened in earlier reigns because coronations are usually much later, but it made sense not to have it drag on and to allow normal service to resume.”
The King was crowned in Westminster Abbey on May 6 in a deeply religious ceremony, followed by a weekend of celebrations.
At his side for her own crowning was Queen Camilla – a move unthinkable in the 1990s when she derided for being Charles’s mistress.
On the day of the coronation, Buckingham Palace made the transition from using the title “Queen Consort” to “The Queen”, having cautiously let the idea of a new Queen settle into the public’s consciousness in the wake of Elizabeth II’s death.
The couple, in lavish robes and wearing their crowns, took to the Palace balcony to see the crowds, joined by the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and the coronation pages and Ladies in Attendance.
The event brought together around 100 heads of state, kings and queens from across the globe, celebrities, everyday heroes and family and friends of the couple.
The King and Camilla have followed the rhythm of a typical royal year in the first 12 months of the Carolean age.
They attended Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph, the Commonwealth Day service, Royal Ascot, Garter Day and Trooping the Colour, undertook a state visit to Germany and continued the tradition of holidaying on the Balmoral estate over the summer.
Mr Little said: “The first year is pretty much as you would hope it would be for somebody who’d been training to be King for the longest time in British history.
“He’s doing what both the public and his mother would have expected of him. It’s very much best foot forward.”
Charles has also had to get used to extra duties as sovereign, most notably his official papers in his daily red boxes.
His Majesty The King’s Red Box 🧰
The Red Box contains papers from government ministers in the UK and the Realms and from representatives from the Commonwealth and beyond. pic.twitter.com/C4JrXHS3uO
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 23, 2022
Sources told The Sunday Times that Charles has been surprised at the increased workload during his first year in the job and decided to be a “steady-as-we go” monarch.
Mr Little suggested challenges ahead for the King include a much more visible anti-monarchist campaign.
Protests were staged in central London on the coronation day, and six demonstrators from the Republic campaign group were held for 16 hours under the sweeping powers of the new Public Order Act.
The Metropolitan Police was criticised for being heavy handed and draconian, and expressed regret over the arrests.
Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith, one of those who was arrested and released without charge, said the anti-monarchy movement was gaining momentum.
Mr Smith said: “Republic has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years – accelerated by the coronation.
“This is the strongest any anti-monarchy movement has ever been in the UK, and we’re now set to grow stronger and louder over the next 18 months.”
However, a YouGov poll ahead of the first anniversary found the majority of the public think the King is doing well.
Some 59% of those questioned said he was doing a good job, compared with only 17% who say he is doing a bad job.
More than 60% of all age groups questioned want to keep the monarchy, but only 37% of the younger generation, aged 18-24, do.
The King, who turns 75 in November, is planning to launch his first big personal project as monarch — a national initiative tackling food waste.
He is also expected to make his first Commonwealth tour as monarch – to Kenya – in the autumn.
But Mr Little questioned when the King would travel to one his Commonwealth realms such as Canada or Australia.
“Inevitably the Commonwealth realms will be a challenge. A year has passed, and the King hasn’t yet visited any of his overseas realms yet,” Mr Little said.
The transitional year has also featured personal troubles.
The King’s youngest son Harry criticised his father’s parenting in his autobiography Spare, accused his brother the Prince of Wales of physically attacking him and said Camilla sacrificed him on her own personal PR altar.
The duke and the Duchess of Sussex, in their part tell-all Netflix documentary, claimed Kensington Palace lied to protect William when it issued a statement denying a story he had bullied Harry out of the royal family.
Debate over whether the Sussexes’ children would use – or even get to keep – the titles of prince and princess that they became entitled to, when the Queen died, were resolved in March when Harry and Meghan announced “Princess Lilibet” had been christened, and it emerged there had been correspondence with the King on the matter.
Charles also handed the title the Duke of Edinburgh on to his brother, Prince Edward, fulfilling the wishes of his late father and the Queen – but this took place six months after his accession demonstrating the King likes to take his time to think on his decisions.
His slimmed down monarchy has only four working royals under the age of 65 – the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.
An official portrait following the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on 6th May. pic.twitter.com/lcOrkVGsd7
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 8, 2023
Diana, Princess of Wales’ biographer Andrew Morton described the year as “business as usual” but said the monarchy was in a “lull”.
He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips that succession was assured with William and Prince George, but said: “The monarchy goes through a series of cycles. It’s a bit like the births, marriages and deaths column of a local newspaper.
“The exciting part is when the children grow up – when they start dating, who they marry, who their children are going to be.
“So we’re in that lull now where the children are at school and they’re vaguely interesting, but not that interesting.”