Everything That Will Happen When Prince Charles Becomes King

It isn't easy to imagine a world in which Queen Elizabeth II doesn't sit on the throne in the United Kingdom, but eventually, this reality will come to pass. And while no one is looking forward to the day when Queen Elizabeth is no longer with us, it still stands that a few changes will occur once her son, Prince Charles, ascends to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth is the longest-serving monarch in the history of Britain, which means that it will be a significant change for some when the country has a king. On top of that, there are a lot of changes that will likely take place. Some are pretty big, such as Prince William and Kate Middleton taking on the titles of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Others will be something of a bookkeeping note, such as swapping out "God Save the Queen" for "God Save the King."

Here's a look at a few things that might change once Prince Charles takes the reigns.

Prince William will get a new title

Prince William's current title as the Duke of Cambridge will be discarded once his father becomes king. William will likely assume the title of Prince of Wales — his father's current title — after Prince Charles is crowned king. As reported by Cosmopolitan, as the Prince of Wales, William plans to focus on a handful of critical issues, including early childhood development, mental health, and the environment. William also plans to cut the current Prince of Wales staff by 50%, which is said to match Charles' vision of a slimmed-down monarchy and staff.

What is less clear is at what point William will be given the title, as it does not happen automatically upon succession. Newsweek has noted that Charles was not named Prince of Wales until his mother had been queen for six years. William will also participate in the investiture of the Prince of Wales, during which he will swear an oath of allegiance to his father, the king.

Kate Middleton will become the Princess of Wales

A more emotional change will concern Prince William's wife, Kate Middleton, the current Duchess of Cambridge. It's assumed that once her husband is named the Prince of Wales, Kate will receive the title Princess of Wales — the same title that William's mom, Princess Diana, received when she married her ex-husband Prince Charles. 

As noted by Cosmopolitan, the title remains nearly synonymous with Diana herself, even more than 20 years after her tragic death. Camilla Parker-Bowles opted not to take on the title after marrying Charles, which was largely expected.

A source close to the royal family told The Telegraph that the title swap would likely be emotional for William and Kate. They explained, "I'm sure it'll be a bit of a bittersweet moment. This is her [Diana's] son and his wife, so in some ways, it will come full circle – but it will also be a poignant reminder of what we all lost."

Prince Charles will likely prioritize climate change

Prince Charles has been passionate about environmental advocacy for decades — long before climate change was a phrase that many of us were familiar and comfortable with. He will likely make combatting climate change a major focus during his reign as king. In 2013, Charles used a speech at St. James' Place as an opportunity to criticize businesses and corporations that he feels have contributed the most to the damage across large swaths of Earth.

As he said in his speech, the issue must be addressed head-on. He explained, "The risk of delay is so enormous that we can't wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying" (via The Guardian).

In 2021, Charles again made climate change his central theme while giving a speech at the year's COP26 meeting in Glasgow. Charles was attending the summit in his mother's place, and his opening speech was praised by many (via Express).

Prince Charles will reduce the royal estate

Prince Charles also seems to have major plans for the residences and homes the royal family currently enjoys. While speaking to the Daily Mail in October 2021, a source revealed that, among other things, Charles is apparently looking forward to downsizing as monarch. According to the report, Charles hopes to significantly cut down on the amount of space he will live in as monarch, reportedly planning to reduce his living quarters to what amounts to "a flat above the shop."

Prince William and Kate Middleton will also likely be moving themselves along with their children. At the time, it was said that the family of five would take up residence at Windsor Castle. In August 2022, it was reported that they did indeed move, opting to live in Adelaide Cottage, which is roughly ten minutes from the lovely and picturesque Windsor Castle we know in popular culture.

The national anthem of the UK will change

There's another change that people in the UK will need to adjust to once Prince Charles becomes King: a new national anthem! The reason for this swap is fairly apparent, as the current song is "God Save the Queen." When Charles ascends to the throne, the song will make a quick and easy lyric swap back to "God Save the King," which was used for former kings such as Edward VII and George V (per Express).

It's expected that the song will be played at the coronation of Charles and Camilla. As Express has noted, many in Britain and around the United Kingdom have never heard a version of the song other than "God Save the Queen," so it's likely there will be a bit of an adjustment period as the country rallies around the word swap and their new monarch in the wake of losing the queen they have loved and supported for so long.

Archie and Lilibet will get titles

Prince William and Kate Middleton aren't the only royals who will get new titles when Prince Charles becomes King. According to Town & Country, both Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor do not currently use titles. And while Prince Harry has opted to drop "Prince" from his name and use Harry, he and Meghan Markle have returned their Duke and Duchess of Sussex titles (via the BBC). 

Archie is allowed to use the title Earl of Dumbarton, and Lilibet could similarly adopt Lady of Dumbarton if her parents wanted her to. As royal expert Victoria Murphy explained to Town & Country, Harry and Meghan made a statement when they declined the title for Archie. She said, "When they did this for Archie, it was widely interpreted that they wanted him to have a normal life and were shunning the formalities a title can bring."

Once Charles becomes king, Archie and Lilibet will technically be able to style themselves as His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness, respectively. Doing so would also designate the children as prince and princess. Royal expert Victoria Arbiter also spoke to Town & Country about this possibility and explained that the swap would be an extensive discussion. She said, "Depending on when that is, it will likely be a discussion held between Charles, William, and the Sussexes as to whether or not they'd like Lili to be known as a princess."

Prince Charles might choose a different name as king

While some family members may or may not be getting new titles once Prince Charles is king, it seems the next monarch will have the option to choose a completely different name if he would like to. As Express pointed out in July 2022, there have been two King Charleses, and both men aren't exactly looked back on fondly by the public. This alone might prompt Charles to take the opportunity to choose a new name as king. 

Charles I is the king who was tapped by Oliver Cromwell in 1645, ultimately put on trial for treason, and later beheaded. In 1660, his son Charles II was brought back from exile and became king, but his personal life was often scrutinized. The Express posited that Charles might decide to style himself after Queen Elizabeth's father and instead become King George VII. 

Prince Charles might adopt a new religious title

As if becoming King isn't quite enough, Prince Charles has been open about the possibility that he might add to his own title when he ascends the throne. During an interview with BBC Radio 2's Sunday Hour in 2015 (via YouTube), Charles explained that he would like to become the Defender of the Anglican Faith when he's king. However, Charles has been open about hoping to modernize the role and perhaps the title, indicating that he would like the title to encompass every religion in modern-day Britain (per The Guardian).

Charles has been discussing this particular idea for two decades. As he explained in the interview, he finds the role to be a particularly important one. Charles said, "I said I would rather be seen as defender of faith all those years ago because ... I mind about the inclusion of other people's faiths and their freedom to worship in this country."

Camilla will be named Queen Consort

In February 2022, Queen Elizabeth confirmed a rumor that had been circulating for quite some time. When Prince Charles becomes king, his wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, will be named Queen Consort. The Queen released a statement that read in part, " ... it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service" (via CBS News).

Charles issued his own statement in response, thanking his mother for the designation and stating that both he and his wife are "deeply conscious of the honor represented by my mother's wish." The change was a pretty big one because at the time of their 2005 wedding Charles explained that Camilla would adopt the title of Princess Consort once he became king. It was believed that the first decision was made out of respect for the late Princess Diana. 

Balmoral will become a museum

In February 2022, The Scottish Daily Express reported that Prince Charles would be making another fairly significant change once he's on the throne: His mother's beloved Balmoral estate will no longer be a royal residence and will instead be turned into a museum that honors the life of Queen Elizabeth II. As the longest serving monarch to date, it's a fitting tribute for what is largely believed to be Queen Elizabeth's favorite home.

Charles and his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles also have a home on the estate, which is where the pair spent their honeymoon. As reported by the Scottish Daily Express, Charles first discussed this idea back in 2008 to then First Minister Alex Salmond. The outlet noted that Charles reportedly also plans to keep the home he and Camilla have enjoyed once Balmoral itself is turned into a museum. 

Balmoral was purchased by Queen Victoria back in 1852, and the family has enjoyed time there ever since.