Big Changes We See Coming For The Royal Family In 2024

After Queen Elizabeth II's tragic death, her son became King Charles III and took his spot on the throne. The official changeover was in May 2023, when he had his tradition-breaking coronation. A little less than a year after that, King Charles III had surgery for an enlarged prostate. Charles' hospitalization was historic because it overlapped with a hospital stay for Catherine, Princess of Wales, and although the operations happened some days apart, they were both announced on January 17, 2024.

On January 29, both Kate and Charles were sent home from the hospital. Grant Harrold, who used to work as a royal butler, told the New York Post, "The fact that Kate is back home, behind closed doors, it'll mean they're able to return to some sense of normality." The outlet reported how William, Prince of Wales, should be returning to his usual royal responsibilities now that Kate was home. The timeline for Kate to work again "will depend on medical advice closer to the time."

The royal family started 2024 in a big way with double surgeries — and big changes are likely coming their way for the rest of the year, based on other things the royals have said and done.

William will laser-focus on certain charitable endeavors

William, Prince of Wales, spoke to the press in November 2023 while in Singapore for the Earthshot Prize. According to the Telegraph, William said he wanted to focus on certain charitable causes. "I want to actually bring change and I want to bring people to the table who can do the change if I can't do it," William explained. The prince described how homelessness is one of the causes he's worked with a lot, but that he wants to be more hands-on with it instead of just serving as a patron and popping in every now and then. "But you have to remain focused, if you spread yourself too thin you just can't manage it and you won't deliver the impact or the change that you really want to happen," William said.

Marlene Koenig of the Royal Musings blog discussed William's wishes with the Daily Express US. "We're going to see less of what I call 'bread and better' engagements, we're going to see far less of them opening hospitals," Koenig said. Koenig mentioned how William's push for this change could be "to make [the monarchy] more relevant, focusing on certain issues, here and there." However, not everyone is happy with the idea of the shift. Someone who works with charities said, "It is almost impossible to raise any serious amount of money in Britain without a royal patron" (via Daily Beast).

New Royal Family Orders hint at Charles providing his own

At high-profile events, women of the royal family wear what's called a Royal Family Order, or a ribbon with a small portrait of the monarch currently on the throne. Previously, the Royal Family Order honoring Queen Elizabeth II had a butter yellow ribbon with long ends. At the 2023 Diplomatic reception, both Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Queen Camilla wore their Royal Family Orders, but the ribbons were much shorter and the ends couldn't be seen.

Emily Nash, royal editor for Hello!, speculated how that change is a signal that it's about time for an upgrade. "The King will issue his own Royal Family Order in [the] future, which will replace the one worn by Queen Camilla and Princess Kate, and the shorter ribbon displayed is a reminder of that coming change," she said. "I would expect to see them wearing the King's portrait this time next year."

This isn't the first time the Royal Family Orders were given a new look. When Kate Middleton got hers in 2017, it was made without ivory, likely because of the conservation efforts of William, Prince of Wales. The updated Royal Family Order ribbons may be another sign of progress the royal family is trying to make — or it could simply be a fashion choice.

Harry and Meghan should use 2024 to rebrand

The working royals aren't the only ones who may have a year full of change ahead. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepped back from official royal family duties in 2020, and they've generated some negative press since. In one instance, they were slammed in The Hollywood Reporter as one of Hollywood's "most embarrassing missteps." However, author and historian Dr. Tessa Dunlop didn't see a problem with that.

Dunlop told The Mirror such press is still good press, especially because of the other high-profile "losers" on that list. She also said how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can keep the public's interest. "The question for 2024 is whether they can convert that clickbait appeal into something more durable," she said. She believed Harry and Meghan criticizing the royal family further would be detrimental to their brand. "The couple appears to thrive on a high-risk strategy, but with so many people willing them to fail, they cannot afford to further squander their brand in 2024," she said. "The world is watching."

After everything that's happened, public relations expert Mark Borkowski thinks this could be Harry and Meghan's last chance to turn things around. "I think 2024 is going to be seismic," he told MailOnline, "either because they're going to do something to recover and find a new positive tactic or it's going to be the undoing of the brand." Whatever happens, it's bound to be interesting.