Upon the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles became King Charles III. He is the new king of an entire country and has instantly become a new player on the global stage. And once he became king, many couldn’t help but wonder: is Charles going to try to maintain a kind of royal status quo or is he looking to shake things up a bit?
By all accounts, Charles is interested in making some major changes. And these changes affect not only what the monarchy will be doing but how the world will look at British royals from now on. Just what big changes does Charles have planned? Keep reading to find out!
Reframing the Royal Family
Ever hear about all those royals and think “wow, there are just too many to keep track of?” As it turns out, Charles himself might agree with that assessment!
According to Insider, Charles is very interested in creating a more “slimmed-down monarchy.” What does that mean? Right now, the 22 highest-ranking members of the Royal Family appear in the official line of succession. Charles wants to pare this down to only seven working royals, though we do not yet know what the exact roster will be.
Why does Charles want to do this? One reason may be financial: fewer working royals means British taxpayer dollars can go a lot further. And this may be necessary since the COVID-19 pandemic led to the Royal Family experiencing a shortfall of $44.5 million dollars.
Another reason may have to do with managing the inevitable scandals. With fewer working royals, it will be easier to coordinate and present a unified front the next time, say, a Prince Andrew-level scandal occurs.
Better royal access for citizens
One common criticism of the monarchy is that the Royal Family sees themselves as above the lives and lifestyles of commoners. Interestingly, King Charles has a plan to change that reputation by providing better royal access to citizens.
What will that look like? Daily Mail reports that the official London royal residence will be open to visits from the public more than ever before. He also wants to turn Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral estate into a museum that people can visit. And Charles is even downsizing his own living arrangements, converting the fancy living quarters of Buckingham Palace into what is described as nothing but a “flat above the shop.”
Time will tell whether this gives Charles a much-needed boost in approval numbers. But overhauling the royal reputation is something that has definitely been a long time coming.
Charles tackles climate change
We don’t yet know all of the issues that King Charles plans to throw his support behind. But one big issue we do know about is the King’s stance on climate change.
As Vox reports, Charles has been an advocate for fighting against climate change for a long time now. At the COP26 conference last year, he recommended nations take “a war-like footing” against climate change. His stance isn’t even new, as Charles has been speaking up about environmental concerns for decades.
Since royal titles are largely ornamental, though, what can Charles really do? Vox speculates he will use the soft power of the role as well as his immense influence to help guide everyone from British citizens to world leaders in the fight against climate change.
Uncertainty about Andrew (and certain other royals)
Earlier, we touched on the fact that Charles wants to trim down the list of working royals. But what does that really mean?
These are the royals that regularly work certain roles and appear at official events. As such, they are paid for their services. Royals can retain titles while stepping back from royal responsibilities. The best examples of this are Harry and Meghan, who are still members of the Royal Family but who have elected to start new lives in America.
And then there is Prince Andrew, the black sheep of the family. Earlier this year, NPR reports that Andrew stepped back from royal responsibilities in 2019 and, in early 2022, was stripped of both his military titles and remaining royal patronages. This decision seemingly carried the Queen’s approval, though many speculated that she was still helping to fund his lifestyle.
With Queen Elizabeth gone, Andrew’s funding may also be gone. And since King Charles is no fan of Andrew, it seems like the troubled prince may be destined to fade into obscurity.
An olive branch to Harry and Meghan
Long before Charles became king, a rift developed between him and Prince Harry. Previously, Harry claimed that Charles threatened to cut off funding if Harry and Meghan moved to America. And there are rampant (albeit unconfirmed) rumors that Charles may have been the senior royal that Meghan claims worried about Archie’s skin color before he was born. And in a recent interview, Meghan claimed that Harry felt as if he had “lost” his father amid all the “Megxit” drama.
So, where do things stand between them now that Charles is king? As Page Six reports, Charles may have extended Harry and Meghan an olive branch while giving his first speech. “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas,” he said.
Still, it’s unclear if these are merely kind words or a signal of an upcoming change. One Buckingham Insider told Page Six that “There’s no way Charles’ team will be as generous in turning a cheek and not calling them out” when it comes to things like using royal titles abroad or criticizing the Royal Family.
Lingering questions about titles for Archie and Lilibet
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have two children: Archie and Lilibet. Now that Queen Elizabeth is gone, are they actually Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet? Not so fast.
As CNN reports, these titles should have been granted immediately following the Queen’s death. Since 1917, the grandchildren of the ruling monarch automatically receive royal titles. However, there is some uncertainty here, with Meghan previously confessing to Oprah Winfrey that Archie could have his title denied.
To make things more confusing, Buckingham Palace previously claimed that Harry and Meghan had chosen not to use titles for their children, a claim which Meghan has disputed.
At the end of the day, it would be up to Charles to determine whether these titles are officially conferred or not. One reason for Charles not granting these titles is his previously-stated desire to slim down the monarchy.
As of this writing, Charles has yet to make an announcement. As the Washington Post reports, royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams described the confusion over the matter very succinctly: “I would expect the situation to be clarified. It hasn’t been.”
We’re not sure how Charles plans to resolve everything, but if we could offer a word of advice? Extending that olive branch to Harry and Meghan will be much more effective if you don’t insult their children while you’re at it!