The moment Elizabeth II died, her eldest child, Charles, automatically became monarch. As sovereign, he has chosen 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 just in the UK but in 14 other Commonwealth realms including Australia and Canada. He will become head of the 56-member Commonwealth, although that is not a hereditary position, after his succession to the role was agreed by Commonwealth leaders at a meeting in London in 2018.
He has become head of the British Armed Forces, the judiciary and the civil service, and he is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. He is the Fount of Honour, which means all honors, such as knighthoods, will now be given in his name.
The United Kingdom does not have a codified constitution, so the role of monarchy is defined by convention rather than law. He has a duty to remain politically impartial, which means he will come under greater scrutiny if he continues to express the views he is known for.
He has championed alternative medicines and organic farming techniques. In 1984, he hit out at 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 he was concerned about directly with ministers.
In a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday, Charles acknowledged having ruffled feathers with his past interventions. But he promised not to meddle in controversial affairs once sovereign, saying he would operate within “the constitutional parameters.”
Elizabeth stayed “above politics” and never expressed herself in any way on any issue and as a result she rarely divided opinion. She managed to retain popular support and cross-party support in parliament, which was the one body with the power to dethrone her.
We will never know what she discussed in her regular audiences with her prime ministers, beginning with Churchill, but Charles is a more outspoken character. Will he go quiet on policy matters in public but continue to lobby in private? Will the prime minister act on it?
The prime ministerial audiences are one of several constitutional duties to which King Charles III will be expected to step up and they will bring him in regular contact with policymakers. He appoints the prime minister, opens parliamentary sessions, approves legislation and official appointments, receives the credentials of foreign ambassadors and hosts world leaders on state visits.
Charles has also adopted the symbolic position as Head of Nation, meaning he becomes the symbol of national identity, unity, and pride. He represents continuity and celebrates excellence on behalf of the country. That’s 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 just because of his honest views but also because of the bad taste still left from his acrimonious divorce from his immensely popular first wife, Diana.
All the 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 to whom she leaves them in her will.
Either way, Charles’ wealth has ballooned. He will now receive the Sovereign Grant, which covers the cost of his official duties and amounted to £86.3 million ($99.2 million) 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 picks up the Duchy of Lancaster, a vast estate of more than 10,000 hectares of land, prime London real estate and a portfolio of investments.
King Charles III has become one of the richest men in England overnight.
For years, the big question around Charles’ wife surrounded her title. At the time their wedding was announced in February 2005, the official statement said: “It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.” That was a very clear signal that Camilla would not use the title of Queen. Her office at Clarence House distanced itself from that statement in the intervening years, however, saying it was a matter for 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 issue for good.
The Queen’s wishes were welcomed by the couple themselves. That same weekend, a statement released by a spokesperson said they had been “touched and honoured 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 center. That would be a dramatic and controversial shift but might also assert King Charles III as the new boss.
William and Catherine