King Charles spent 70 years preparing to be the monarch while his mother, Queen Elizabeth, reigned. The queen and the then-Prince of Wales worked together to ensure the monarchy's survival. However, King Charles has already proven his time on the throne will differ.
Queen Elizabeth modernized the monarchy when she ascended the throne in 1953
When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in the early 1950s, she made many changes to the monarchy. The U.K. hadn't had a female monarch since Queen Victoria in 1901, and Queen Elizabeth was only 23 at the time of her crowning. She would breathe fresh air into her family's establishment no matter what. The queen was part of a generation that wanted change.
However, she didn't want to radically transform the monarchy right away. Her husband, Prince Philip, a modernizer, convinced her to televise her coronation, which had never been done. Together, the queen and Prince Philip made the monarchy into what it is today.
The queen ramped up her modernization even more after receiving harsh criticism from Lord Altrincham. He claimed the queen was out of touch with her subjects and suggested that she end some of the old-world traditions.
For instance, the outdated practice of presenting debutantes at court. He suggested she invite the public to the palace for dinners and events instead of other monarchies and heads of state.
The queen soon invented the royal walkabout, a new way for the royal family to interact with the public. Royals continue to do this today, and it is one of the most important things that keeps the monarchy close to the public.
Queen Elizabeth also allowed the BBC to film a "fly-on-the-wall" documentary about her and her family. It was revolutionary. No one had seen the royal family like that. It fully opened the door to the mystery that surrounds the monarchy.
King Charles will be an even more modern monarch than Queen Elizabeth
The former Prince of Wales was only four when his mother was crowned. So, he saw everything his mother did as a monarch and learned from the best. However, he has his own ideas and views.
"His record as Prince of Wales, in its breadth and depth, will be his real legacy," biographer Sally Bedell Smith told USA Today. "He was the most innovative prince of Wales ever – he was an activist in a way no other heir to the throne ever has been."
One of the biggest things King Charles has done so far is downsizing the monarchy. He's using a select few senior royals to help him transition. This "slimmed down" monarchy is also cost-efficient.
King Charles' long-time environmentalism will also likely shape a new monarchy. He doesn't just want to downsize the number of royals; he wants to minimize their ecological footprint by scaling back their residences.
Queen Elizabeth's coronation differed from those before, but King Charles' coronation was drastically different. He is altering his role as "Defender of the Faith" to "Defender of Faith."
There will undoubtedly be many more changes that King Charles will implement in the monarchy and even more when Prince William ascends the throne. For now, they've been minor and haven't shaken things up too much. Royalists won't be left wondering what happened, and the anti-monarchists are getting some of the changes they've always wanted. One thing is for sure; King Charles will try his hardest to unite everyone.