A year without the queen. A year with the king.
There were no official public event Friday to mark the first anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Her son, King Charles III, 74, was planning to spend the day, which also marks his own accession to the throne, “quietly and privately” at the royal family’s rural retreat in Balmoral, Scotland, Buckingham Palace has said.
“In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us,” the king said in a brief statement Friday.
“I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all.”
So how has the new king done a year after the passing of Britain’s longest serving, and beloved, monarch? And, a year after her death at age 96, does Britain look any different in the Carolean era, as his reign is known?
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The percentage of Britons who said King Charles was doing a good job spiked to 63% in the immediate aftermath of the queen’s death, according to a survey by YouGov, an online research firm.
Twelve months later, more recent surveys from YouGov and others indicate this support has dropped off a little, to 60%, compared with 32% who hold a negative view of his performance. As has been the case for some time, younger Britons are far more likely to believe the monarchy should be scrapped compared with older Britons.
“There’s an ongoing trend of falling support, younger people will not be won back to the monarchist cause,” said Graham Smith, who runs Republic, an organization that wants to abolish the monarchy.
“The monarchy is now being propped up by the over-65s. Sooner rather than later overall support for the royals will drop below 50% − then the game is on,” he said.
A prime minister or two
Two days before the queen died, she dispatched her last royal duty when she received Conservative Party politician Liz Truss at Balmoral. Truss had just received a mandate from her party to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister. She traveled to Scotland for a formal handing-over ceremony known as the “kissing of the hands.”
Photos released to media showed the monarch wearing a cardigan and tartan skirt and leaning on a walking stick as she greeted Truss, shook her hand and invited her form a new government in the wake of Johnson’s resignation. With that simple interaction, Truss became the 56th British prime minister.
Less than two months later, Truss resigned, becoming the shortest-serving leader in British political history. She stepped down after unveiling a plan to cut taxes and raise government spending that rocked Britain’s financial sector. The move caused the Bank of England, the nation’s central bank, to intervene to stabilize markets.
At the end of October that same year, Rishi Sunak was appointed leader. At 42, he became the youngest British prime minister in more than 200 years and the first person of Hindu faith to occupy No. 10 Downing Street.
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Money, stamps − an altered anthem
The queen’s portrait appeared on stamps, coins and British pound bills for more than 70 years. And that’s still the case. These are still largely in circulation. But they are being slowly phased out as the king’s likeness is gradually introduced on money, stamps and other items that carry royal emblems.
The Bank of England has previewed some of the designs for the king’s bank notes. They are expected to enter circulation the middle of next year. Stamps with his portrait are already available.
Some postboxes with the king’s royal cypher − CIIIR, for Charles III Rex − have been unveiled. A cypher is similar to but not quite the same thing as a monogram. According to the Royal Mail, only new postboxes will feature the king’s cypher. The queen’s cypher − EIIR, for Elizabeth II Regina − will remain for the others.
Britain’s national anthem has changed from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King.”
Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty Magazine, told the Reuters news agency that the king has done “exceptionally well” in his first year even if he has not made major changes to the monarchy.
She said that as he had promised, he has put aside campaigning on the environment and climate change, issues he undertook when he was heir to the throne.
He has not yet, however, cut costs or reformed the monarchy’s bloated system of patronage.
“I just think he’s been really, really busy with everything that’s happened this year, Seward told Reuters. “He has his own things to do, but first and foremost comes the job of being king.”
Still, one area where there has been no visible progress is when it comes to his own family.
Prince Andrew, the king’s disgraced younger brother who has been stripped of most of his royal titles and duties, has settled a lawsuit brought by an American a woman who had accused him of raping her when she was a teenage victim of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew’s friend. Andrew denies the allegations.
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But Andrew has not been brought back into the fold, and there are no major signs of a family rapprochement.
A feud between the family and the king’s son and daughter-in-law Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has also not been resolved. Harry and Meghan’s allegations of racism, hateful comments and even physical violence against Harry were repeated in a Netflix documentary series and Harry’s memoir.