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Priorities of King Charles III
Eight months into his reign, His Majesty King Charles III has begun to give firmer indications of his goals, priorities and style as Monarch. So what can we expect from our newly crowned King?
One of His Majesty’s first priorities on becoming King was to lay Queen Elizabeth II to rest in a way befitting her long reign and the deep respect of her peoples. His Majesty gained widespread admiration for his dignity and fortitude as he grieved the loss of his mother.
At the same time, the King attended to another pressing priority – the first stages of formalising his accession. These began with the Accession Council meeting September last year and culminated with his and Queen Camilla's Coronation on 6 May.
Another immediate task for the new Monarch was to adjust responsibilities within the Royal Family. For example, the King bestowed on Prince William the title of Prince of Wales, traditionally associated with the heir to the throne.
Another, longer-term task was rearranging the Royal Family’s many patronages of community and other organisations. Those of the King and Queen Camilla are currently under review and the 600 patronages held by her late Majesty, the Queen, will also be part of that consideration.
Some of the King’s current patronages that are closest to his heart may, out of necessity, be transferred to other members of the Royal Family – or, as His Majesty expressed it, ‘into the trusted hands of others.’
Royal experts have said we can expect to see him create a smaller and more efficient monarchy.
The King’s long-held commitment to the Commonwealth has been steadfast and clearly will remain that way. In his first Commonwealth Day message as King, His Majesty said that the organisation had been a constant throughout his life and he praised its inspiring diversity and its ‘boundless potential as a force for good’.
The King served in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. His close links with the British Armed Forces – and those of Commonwealth countries including Australia – are highly unlikely to change.
Not long after the Queen’s death, the King wrote to the Australian Defence Force thanking its personnel for their professionalism and loyalty during his mother’s reign. The Australian Navy, Army and Air Force all bear the title ‘Royal’ and were well represented through Australia's Federation Guard's inclusion in the Coronation procession.
His Majesty has a well-known special interest in conservation and sustainability. As Prince of Wales, he was an ‘early adopter’ on environmental issues, first publicly raising the dangers of pollution from plastics and vehicle emissions in 1970, when he was twenty-one. He set up a wholly organic farm next to Highgrove House in Gloucestershire in the 1980s.
More recently, while still Prince of Wales, the King addressed COP 26 in Glasgow in 2021, urging governments to take concerted action to combat global warming. During his recent visit to Germany as King, he reiterated that message. Sustainability is likely to remain an influence on his decision-making as King.
His Majesty has acknowledged that his life will change now that he is Monarch. As King he is a constitutional Monarch in the Westminster system, and the style and range of his future comments on topical issues may be shaped differently.
As constitutional Monarch, the King will of course exercise the full range of constitutional duties expected of the role. His Majesty has already formally opened the UK Parliament, standing in for Queen Elizabeth in 2022.
King Charles and Queen Camilla have both shown a deft touch in meeting people in formal and informal situations. There is every expectation that both will ensure they are seen as often as possible by people in the UK and other realms including Australia.
The King has already shown his skills international relations, recently completing a successful State Visit to Germany, where His Majesty even managed a well-received joke in German!
A keen sense of humour has been a long-standing feature of the King’s style. In 2012, His Majesty was a surprise presenter of the weather forecast on BBC Scotland. The recording has received nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
In Australia in 1977, the Prince of Wales was interviewed by a famously nervous Ian Meldrum, host of the music program Countdown. In 2014, in paying tribute to Meldrum, the King took part in a spoof of the original interview.
Opportunities like these may not be taken up so readily now His Majesty is King, but there are still precedents – notably Queen Elizabeth’s James Bond ‘adventure’ recorded for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. And, of course, Her Majesty’s Paddington Bear moment.
The strongest indication of the King’s overarching approach to his reign is found in the speech he delivered the day after the Queen’s death. King Charles made a point of paying tribute to the Queen’s abiding love of tradition coupled with a ‘fearless embrace of progress’.
It is expected to remain a guiding principle for the reign of King Charles III.