Keeping the monarchy relevant is the challenge King Charles III has faced since the death of his mother, Elizabeth II, who turns one this Friday (8). And leaving the shadow of the matriarch, who led the United Kingdom for 70 years, is one of the most difficult missions for the new king.
Some traditions, however, seem to be helping Charles excel. One of them is that the —few— official events scheduled for this Friday do not exactly mourn Elizabeth’s death, but rather commemorate one year of Charles’ accession to the throne —which happened automatically on September 8, 2022, although the coronation in fact, it only occurred on May 6 of this year.
In London, there will be the ringing of bells at Westminster Abbey and 21-gun salutes in the city’s royal parks. In the abbey’s calendar, for example, the bells ring from 1 pm (9 am in Brazil), “marking the first anniversary of the ascension of His Majesty the King”. There is no mention of the queen.
Prince William – eldest son of Charles and therefore first in line to the succession – and Princess Kate are expected to head the tributes in London, and the heir is expected to read a message about Elizabeth’s legacy. Prince Harry is also expected to be in town, but he is not expected to attend anything – except for the charity awards ceremony of which he is a patron, which took place this Thursday (7).
The King and Queen Camilla will not interrupt their vacation in Balmoral, Scotland, where the castle where the matriarch died at age 96 is located. They will spend the day “in silence and privacy”, just as Elizabeth used to spend the day of her father King George VI’s (1895-1952) death.
More palpably, the government announced the creation of a committee to consider proposals for a permanent memorial to Queen Elizabeth II, to be inaugurated in 2026, when she would be one hundred years old. The committee will listen to suggestions from the public, and the costs will be covered by the government.
Unofficially, there was a parade of corgi dogs, similar to the ones Elizabeth owned. Last Sunday (3), around 20 owners took their animals to parade in front of Buckingham Palace. The pets wore crowns and costumes inspired by the monarchy.
At 74 years old, Charles has demonstrated his desire for the position, for which he has waited — and for which he has been prepared — his entire life. There is a lot of talk about your willingness to approach subjects and greet them personally — something he did the day after his mother’s death, in his first public appearance as king. “His hand is soft and warm. He had sadness on his face, but also kindness,” he told Sheet a Scottish woman, at the time.
A poll released this week by the YouGov institute shows that 62% of Britons think the nation should remain a monarchy, with 26% preferring to elect someone as head of state. But there is the shadow of the new generation to face. Among those aged 18 to 24, these numbers are, respectively, 37% in favor and 40% against.
This is not, however, a new trend triggered by Elizabeth’s death. At least since 2020, the institute has found this perception in young people. In contrast, among those over 65, approval of the monarchy reaches 80%.
In a slightly more incisive question, whether the monarchy is a source of pride or shame, a third of young people admitted to feeling embarrassed by the entity, while a quarter said they were proud.
Charles seeks to erase some bad moments, such as episodes in which he got angry because of a case in front of him or a leaking inkwell in his first month of reign. At least the way it was presented in the images that went viral, the king seemed to be mistreating employees.
It is clear that the tabloids and part of the public prefer to highlight his setbacks rather than his victories, such as the state visit to Germany. There, he was applauded by local politicians for speaking part of the time in German.
The king holds weekly audiences with prime minister Rishi Sunak, participates in national events, has a quota of visits to meet, foreign dignitaries to receive, among other tasks. An English news agency even compared the workload of Charles and his mother in the first 365 days of their reign: 161 days of work for the son against 157 for the mother.
Analyzes of Charles’s first year converge on a reign of continuity rather than unexpected transformations. While many considered this king a potential reformer, a man impatient for change after spending so long as heir to the throne, he seems to have opted for stability.
As Sally Bedell Smith, author of “Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” told The Associated Press, the change is subtle and will be more evolution than revolution. “The Queen was known for making gradual changes. In the 1990s, there was a lot of talk about how Charles was more agitated, wanting to do things more radically and be more outspoken. I think he recognized that this is not his role. .”
Somehow, Charles seems aware that his son will have a better chance of being a modernizing monarch when the crown is placed on his head as King William V.