The Major Changes King Charles III Has Made In The Year Since The Queen's Death

On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II died, ending a record–breaking reign of just over 70 years. As Britain's second-longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth left some pretty big shoes for her son, King Charles III, to fill. Although he had decades of training from his mom, it was an adjustment for Charles. The new king had to get acclimated to increased royal duties while he and the world grieved the late Queen.

On one hand, Charles helped ease the transition by not planning any dramatic changes. "Charles has decided to be the 'steady-as-we-go' monarch, providing the stability and continuity the country needs now," a close acquaintance of the King divulged to The Times. On the other hand, at age 73, Charles was Britain's oldest new monarch, and so he was prepared to dive in and make his mark. "It's a big thing to take on at that age," royal historian Hugo Vickers told Fortune. "So, yes, I suspect he's a man in a hurry."

On his second day as king, he broke new ground by showing the Accession Council, or formal proclamation of Charles as monarch, on TV for the first time. Charles is not a fan of senior courtiers saying, "But that's how the Queen did it," per Daily Mail. Over his first year, Charles has proved he's going to do some things his own way, like royal housing and titles, creating a more modern coronation, family holidays, or finding ways to reduce waste and support the environment.

King Charles III bestowed titles and new responsibilities to family members

After King Charles III was crowned, he handed out a bunch of royal titles. Since the Prince of Wales is not an inherited title, one day after he acceded to the throne, King Charles presented his former title to Prince William.  As William's wife, Kate Middleton automatically became Catherine, Princess of Wales.

In March 2023, in honor of his youngest brother's birthday, Charles conferred the Duke of Edinburgh on Prince Edward — a title long associated with Prince Philip. After their father died, the dukedom actually belonged to Charles for a time, since it was an inherited title. However, the King decided to change the criteria so that it would go back to the Crown after Prince Edward's death. The monarch can then bestow the title to the person of his choice. In addition to titles, Charles also gave Edward and Princess Anne elevated new roles when he expanded the number of Counsellors of State. Along with Queen Camilla, Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, and Princess Beatrice, Anne and Edward are permitted to act on the King's behalf in the event of illness or overseas tours. 

For Camilla, Charles made the decision to eliminate the "consort" part of her title from his coronation invitation, giving her the more streamlined title of "queen." This practice has been a tradition for past wives of kings, with the understanding that the consort part is implied, since they married into the royal family.

A shorter, more modernized coronation was planned by King Charles III

It's not easy putting your own stamp on a storied event that goes back 1,000-plus years. However, when deciding on the details of his coronation, King Charles III approached the task with a desire to save time and money, as well as imbue some modern touches on the ancient ceremony. For starters, Charles trimmed the ceremony's length to just over an hour (compared to Queen Elizabeth II's three-hour ceremony). He also shortened the guest list from 8,000 down to 2,000. 

Charles also simplified the coronation dress code. Rather than bespoke robes, guests chose attire that they'd wear for any formal event, like suits and dresses. Charles made some tweaks to his own outfit and followed the advice of palace aides, ditching the silk stockings and breeches that past kings favored. He also yielded to Prince George's request to buck coronation tradition for the Pages of Honor, when they substituted pants for the breeches and tights of yesteryear.

As an additional way to keep costs down and update the event, Charles eliminated the practice of the king and queen presenting two chunks of gold, weighing one pound and eight ounces respectively, during the ceremony. This one cut to the program saved a significant amount: approximately £31,000. 

King Charles III is taking a slimmed down approach to royal housing

During his first year, King Charles III has reappraised royal housing with a frugal eye. In May 2023, users of Buckingham Palace's indoor pool observed that the heated water was colder than in times past. Charles reportedly made the decision to avoid wasting energy and taxpayer money. The King is also examining redundancies in staffing at royal residences. "There are chefs for [Charles and Queen Camilla] and chefs for the staff. Why, they ask, can't there be one lot of kitchen staff for everyone?" a royal insider queried the Daily Mail.

Then, in late June 2023, the King evicted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex hardly used the property after their 2020 move to California. "It's not a good look for a house to be sitting empty so it can accommodate Harry and Meghan once in a blue moon," one of Charles' friends explained to The Daily Beast in February 2023. Afterwards, Charles wanted his younger brother, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, to downsize from his lavish home, Royal Lodge, and move into Frogmore Cottage. Andrew, however, has been reluctant to move. For now, the king has paused this plan to give Sarah Ferguson, Andrew's ex-wife who also lives at Royal Lodge, time to recover after a grueling breast cancer surgery.

The King has also relaxed and modified royal holiday traditions

Now that he's on the throne, King Charles III has made some changes to time-honored royal holidays. During Queen Elizabeth II's reign, Christmas celebrations at Sandringham were grand events that required family members to bow or curtsy to the monarch. For his first Christmas as king, Charles opted for a "less buttoned-up" affair, as former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond informed Ok!, per Daily Mail. As part of this more relaxed holiday, Charles reportedly didn't require his family to watch his first Christmas speech on TV, and he encouraged them to share their memories of the late Queen. In addition, unlike Elizabeth, Charles left Sandringham in early January to spend an extended break at Birkhall in Scotland. In contrast, his mother preferred to stay at Sandringham into February and commemorate the anniversary of her father's death there and her transition to becoming queen. 

Charles' enthusiasm for Birkhall, his home on the Balmoral estate, also led the monarch to break a century-long royal summer tradition. While Elizabeth spent her end-of-summer vacation residing in Balmoral Castle, Charles chose to reserve the building for official royal business, as well as accommodations for extended royal family members. Since Elizabeth died at Balmoral, it's possible Charles decided to stay at Birkhall due to grieving his mother. 

Frugality and green causes are a priority for King Charles III

King Charles III has been outspoken about environmental causes since he gave his first speech on the topic way back in 1970. As King, green initiatives remain paramount in his work. "Climate, community, and culture are at the heart of what he wants to be seen leading on now — with climate the most important to him," a senior Buckingham Palace aide informed The Times. In January 2023, the Crown Estate leased six new wind farms, making a total of 42 wind power generating stations in the royal portfolio. The six new farms were forecast to earn a massive £1 billion ($1.2 billion) annually. Charles opted to give up this hefty paycheck and use the extra money "for the wider public good," as a Palace spokesperson told The Washington Post.

Charles has long been a proponent of organic farming, and he's also championed efforts to reduce food waste. Leftovers have been a mainstay of the menu in his household. In July 2023, the king combined these enthusiasms and created The Coronation Food Project. The program's goal is to partner with charities to provide them with extra food that supermarkets might otherwise discard. According to Charles, less waste could result in a maximum of 10% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. As the monarch prepares to get his second year on the throne underway, Charles has intentions of expanding the work of the Coronation Food Project.