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'A very different kind of monarchy is starting to show,' royal expert says

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Following his mother’s death on Sept. 8, King Charles III has had two months to settle into his new role as sovereign. In that short time, the world is already seeing a shift to what seems to be a less formal and more accessible monarchy, said CTV News royal commentator Richard Berthelsen.

One day after the announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the King greeted a sea of well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace. More recently, during a reception at the palace on Friday, the King kissed fashion designer Stella McCartney on the cheek as they greeted one another.

“That would have been unthinkable with [Queen Elizabeth II] in public,” Berthelsen told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Both the King and Queen Camilla are fairly tactile with people and don’t stand on a lot of ceremony with things like that.”

During a visit to the English city of York on Wednesday, one protester threw eggs at both King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla. However, the royal couple carried on with the engagement and continued to greet the crowd of people. No eggs appeared to hit the couple, but one man was arrested.

These kinds of interactions may be a sign that the monarchy is entering a new era, said Berthelsen – one less focused on rules of etiquette and more concerned with connecting to the public.

“It’s going to mean a more contemporary monarchy where people can see the sovereign and feel that they can ask to take a picture,” Berthelsen said. “A very different kind of monarchy is starting to show [and] I think it will appeal to a broader segment of the population.”

This shift in the Royal Family’s approach to engaging with the public is one of several changes that are likely to take place as the King begins his reign, Berthelsen said.

Another sign that the monarchy is entering a new era involves the release of Queen Consort Camilla’s new cypher. Revealed by Buckingham Palace on Monday, the monogram features the initials “C” for Camilla, and “R” for Regina, the Latin word for Queen.

Although Buckingham Palace has referred to Camilla as Queen Consort since King Charles ascended the throne, she can simply be referred to as Queen, Berthelsen said. The title of “Queen” can be used for a female monarch or the wife of a monarch.

According to royal tradition, the Queen Consort is typically crowned with the King as part of his coronation, in “a similar but simpler” ceremony. According to a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Oct. 11, King Charles’ coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6.

“There’s really no significance to the use of ‘Queen’ or ‘Queen Consort’ for Camilla … she’s still Queen by marriage,” Berthelsen said.

However, if the new monarch is a Queen, her spouse is not crowned or anointed during the coronation.

“It’s a matter of constitutional as well as common law,” Berthelsen said. “The title ‘King’ would have overshadowed the Queen … in a patriarchal society.”

“King” can only refer to a reigning male monarch, as royal titles held by women do not transfer to their husband. Following Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, for example, Prince Philip held the title of Prince Consort.

It’s likely the palace will continue to refer to Camilla as Queen Consort until the coronation, Berthelsen said. By then, the public may be used to the fact that she is Queen, and that the title no longer refers to Elizabeth.

WILL SOME ROYAL FAMILY MEMBERS RECEIVE NEW ROLES?

As the new sovereign continues to settle in, Berthelsen also anticipates King Charles will soon look at expanding the pool of royals who can be called upon as Counsellors of State.

In Parliament on Oct. 24, British politicians raised questions about whether Prince Harry and Prince Andrew should remain Counsellors of State. Both dukes are among a short list of royals who can be summoned by King Charles III to stand in for him on royal duties if he is outside the United Kingdom, or feeling ill. According to the Regency Act 1937, Counsellors of State include a monarch’s spouse, and the first four people in the line of succession to the throne over the age of 21.

With Prince Harry no longer a working member of the Royal Family, and Prince Andrew having stepped down from public duties in 2019, there are few people the King can turn to as deputy.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Berthelsen said. “He needs more Counsellors of State.”

Along with Queen Consort Camilla, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, the King’s remaining Counsellors of State are Prince William and Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice. However, Princess Beatrice is not technically considered a working member of the Royal Family. Additionally, Camilla is likely to be travelling with the King when they are out of state, leaving just one viable option when the King and Queen Consort are travelling abroad.

The solution would involve the government rewriting the law to allow other members of the Royal Family to be Counsellors of State as well, Berthelsen said. This larger pool of royal deputies is expected to include the King’s remaining siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, he said.

Kate, Princess of Wales, may be considered for the role as well, Berthelsen said, in order to replace Princess Beatrice.

“That hasn't been done before,” said Berthelsen, referring to the wife of an heir becoming Counsellor of State. “But it's possible she could be included.”

Rather than strip family members of their existing titles, it’s more likely that others will be added to the list of royals to choose from, Berthelsen said. This does not necessarily mean there will be more working members of the Royal Family, just that more of these members may be called upon to assist with official duties.

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