Between the reshuffling of royal titles, two globally broadcast events, and a few public embarrassments, Britain’s monarchy has had an eventful year since the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Sept. 8.
When the head of state died at the age of 96, bringing her 70-year reign to close, it triggered a number of changes—both large and small—in the royal family and in the nation. Not least, King Charles automatically ascended the throne after more than seven decades of waiting.
In the weeks that followed, the British public paid their respects in masses, queuing for as long as 24 hours to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. World leaders and global royals flew to London to stand alongside British politicians at the monarch’s funeral viewed by more than 29 million viewers in the U.K. and estimated billions more across the globe.
In May, Charles was crowned in a widely televised coronation ceremony branded as inclusive and pared back. But in the midst of a cost of living crisis in the U.K., Charles' big day came with a hefty price tag of between £50 million-£100 million ($63-$125 million), particularly compared to his mother’s coronation in 1953, which cost the present-day equivalent of £20.5 million. With the transfer of power, U.K. institutions underwent a rebrand, swapping in Charles’ face and title across its institutions, products, and currency (which will be in circulation next year). The Queen’s death also renewed discussions about the future of the monarchy at home and in the Commonwealth nations.
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Ahead of Friday, Charles paid tribute to his late mother with a statement issued via Buckingham Palace. “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 statement read. “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.”
The 74-year-old King will spend the day reflecting in private at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland, where his mother died. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Kate and William, are set to lead their own tributes during a small service in Wales.
As the royal family observes the one-year anniversary of the Queen’s death, here’s everything that has changed for them since.
His Majesty King Charles III
For 70 years, the Queen was stitched into the fabric of the U.K. Her face was on coins, banknotes, and stamps, while her title Her Majesty was emblazoned on everything from prisons to postboxes. Now, Charles’ image is ever-present and the official language of government has switched to His Majesty. For example, the senior lawyers working in the U.K. are now referred to as King’s Counsel, as opposed to Queen’s counsel.
The British national anthem, which dates back to the 19th century, has also changed its lyrics from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King.
With a year under his belt, royal watchers say Charles is holding his own in the new role. "The Royal Family has found new energy. The general feeling over here is that the King has done a good job in the first year,” royal biographer Hugo Vickers tells TIME. He adds that the King’s dedication to inclusivity—which was demonstrated at his tradition-breaking multi-faith coronation—is faring particularly well. "People were afraid he would not adapt but he did so at once. He was well prepared for the role,” Vickers adds.
Charles has hosted a number of high profile state visitors, including the President of the Republic of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and U.S. President Joe Biden. He also oversaw the appointment of U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who took on a new role of his own when replaced Liz Truss in October.
Royal line of succession and titles
Charles' ascension had a knock-on effect for the line of succession in the royal family. The monarch's long-held title of Prince of Wales and heir-apparent passed to William, thereby making Kate the Princess of Wales. The line of succession currently features 23 members of the royal family, ending with Master Lucas Tindall, aged 2, one of the Queen’s great-grandchildren. William is followed by his eldest son Prince George, his only daughter Princess Charlotte, and his youngest son Prince Louis, with Prince Harry fifth in line.
Meanwhile, Camilla has benefited “enormously” from the title of Queen, which helped legitimize her reign, says Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams.
Charles’ ascension was also lucrative. Forbes estimates that he inherited $500 million upon the death of the queen, across her private estates and her personal investments. He has also inherited a large portfolio of land and property that are technically owned by the U.K. government, estimated by Forbes at $24 billion. William is also a billionaire, at least on paper. The heir-apparent inherited the Duchy of Cornwall, approximately 130,00 acres of land in southwest England worth around $1.2 billion.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s controversies
While the royal family has tried to project an image of stability during the last year, Prince Harry has made the task difficult for them. Charles’ younger son secured a number of high-profile collaborations that revealed disputes in the royal family.
In December, Harry and his wife Meghan Markle released a six-part Netflix docuseries which told the story of their courtship and departure from royal life in the U.K. and the racism Markle faced there. Bigger bombshell came in Harry’s memoir, Spare, which became an instant bestseller when it was published in January. The book covered his history of drug use, the loss of his virginity to an older woman, his killing of 25 people in Afghanistan while serving in the military, and being physically assaulted by his brother.
The future of the Commonwealth
While the U.K. easily transitioned to a new King, some of its former colonies took the change as an opportunity to reconsider the role of the monarchy in their governments. "It is thought several of the 14 Commonwealth realms may become republics, but there is no timetable for this,” says Fitzwilliams. Yet rather than shrinking, the Commonwealth expanded when Gabon and Togo, neither former British colonies, joined in June 2022, he adds.
But in November 2021, Barbados transitioned into a parliamentary republic, with an elected president as the head of state. During William and Kate’s March 2022 Caribbean tour, leaders of the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize expressed their desire to break away from the British monarchy. The couple were met with waves of protest and calls for the slavery reparations. William has expressed “profound sorrow” for the slave trade, but fell short of a formal apology for his family’s role in it.
The Queen’s death caused further nations to reconsider its future ties with the monarchy, with Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines rethinking the relationship.
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