The ups and downs in the early reign of King Charles III

The king faced personal problems and a political quarrel in the first months of his reign as Charles III.

With his youngest son, the Duke of Sussex, exposing his strained relationship with the royal family on the most public platforms, rifts have widened thanks to the Sussexes’ Netflix documentary and Harry’s autobiography, Spare.

Charles, the former Prince of Wales and the nation’s longest-serving heir to the throne, assumed the throne on 8 September 2022 upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.

Harry and Meghan name their daughter Princess Lilibet

Staff unwrap copies of Harry’s autobiography at Waterstones Piccadilly in January (James Manning/PA)

The new monarch – taking on the role for which he had been groomed since birth – dedicated his whole life to the service of the sovereign in his historic address to the nation, the day after the late queen’s death.

“That promise of lifelong service that I renew to all of you today,” he said.

The king and new queen consort were no doubt nervous about the response they might receive when they returned to Buckingham Palace for the first time to see the floral tributes.

Death of Queen Elizabeth II

A benefactor kisses the hand of King Charles III during a walk outside Buckingham Palace to see messages and tributes (Yui Mok/PA)

But they were enthusiastically greeted by crowds of supporters.

Cheers rang out with shouts of “hip, hip, hooray” and the king received a kiss on the cheek from one woman and a kiss on the hand from another.

Less than a year into his new role, the 74-year-old is adjusting to life as head of royalty and the nation, completing a string of milestones, from his first Christmas broadcast to his first state visit abroad .

She used her first holiday message to sympathize with families grappling with the cost-of-living crisis and praise those who support people in need.

King's Christmas broadcast

Charles III during the taping of his first Christmas broadcast in December 2022 (Victoria Jones/PA)

He met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in February, telling him “we’ve all been worried about you and thought about your country for so long”.

But amidst the constant stream of official duties, the monarch was faced with challenges.

A “constitutionally unwise” meeting between the King and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen angered unionists as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sought their support for a new post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

Charles welcomed Ms Von der Leyen to Windsor Castle at the end of his busy day following a joint press conference with Sunak to outline the new deal dubbed the ‘Windsor Framework’.

Audience at Windsor Castle

The King receives European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a hearing at Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Conservative Brexiteer leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was “constitutionally unwise” and wrong to involve Charles in “immediate political controversy” on the day the Prime Minister signed a new deal with her.

Baroness Arlene Foster, former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Northern Ireland first minister, said the meeting at Windsor Castle was “crass and will go very badly”.

Buckingham Palace said Charles acted on “government advice”. Downing Street said it was “basically” a decision for the king.

In December, eggs were thrown at the King and Camilla during a walk in York, but they missed and the pair were carried away by security.

A man was later found guilty of threatening behavior and sentenced to 12 months Community Order with 100 hours unpaid work for what the magistrate described as “the unprovoked, targeted and planned use of violence against what was, after all, a 50-year-old 74”.

Logistical setbacks came in the form of canceling the king’s first state visit of the reign.

Charles and the queen consort were due to travel to France, but the trip was shelved at the last minute in March following unrest across the country over pension reforms.

King Charles III State Visit to Germany – Day 2

The King addresses members during a visit to the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, in Berlin (Chris Jackson/PA)

A tour of Germany went ahead – becoming the first state visit rather than the second – with the king, who spoke mainly in German, delivering the first speech by a British monarch during a session of the Bundestag.

Meanwhile, Charles and other royals addressed Harry’s criticisms in his controversial reveal book earlier this year.

Harry’s memoir Spare included claims that the Prince of Wales physically attacked him and made fun of his panic attacks, and that the King put his own interests above Harry’s and was jealous of Meghan and the Princess of Wales.

Harry has also labeled Camilla as “mean” and “dangerous” in interviews, accusing her of rehabilitating his image at the expense of his.

Two months later, reports emerged that Harry and Meghan were asked to leave Frogmore Cottage, their UK property near Windsor Castle.

Death of Queen Elizabeth II

The Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex staged a show of unity at Windsor Castle following the Queen’s death (Chris Jackson/PA)

Reports said the move was sanctioned by the king and removes their remaining foothold in the UK and has further weakened ties with the royal family.

The debate over whether the Sussexes’ children would use – or even manage to keep – the titles of prince and princess to which they were entitled, when the Queen died, was resolved in March when Harry and Meghan announced that the “Princess Lilibet” had been christened, and it transpired that there had been a correspondence with the king about it.

Charles also handed over the title of Duke of Edinburgh to his brother Prince Edward, fulfilling the wishes of his late father and the Queen.

With the coronation just days away, anti-monarchist group Republic is planning its rallies for May 6 and questions have been raised over the undisclosed budget for the multi-million pound event as the nation grapples with a cost-of-living crisis.

Royal visit to Liverpool

Protesters await the arrival of King Charles III and the Queen consort for their visit to Liverpool Central Library (Jon Super/PA)

And Harry, in a High Court case this week, caused further turmoil when he recounted how the late Queen backed up her request for an apology from media mogul Rupert Murdoch for alleged illegal intelligence gathering, but her efforts were blocked by Charles’s staff.

Harry accused Clarence House in a witness statement of “apparently blocking our every move” as part of a strategy to keep the media “on the sidelines in order to pave the way for my stepmother, and father, to be accepted by the British public.” as queen consort and King respectively”.

While Meghan is in the US, Charles, William and the rest of the royals will face Harry at his coronation at Westminster Abbey.

He will join the Windsors for the first time in public since the Queen’s funeral, to attend the coronation of his father and stepmother.

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