Why is the Name of the new King “Charles III”?
The new Prime Minister Liz Truss has confirmed the new king's official name as a monarch - King Charles III. King Charles could have chosen a different name than the one he was given as a child but has opted to keep his given name. That was the first decision of the new king's reign. He could have chosen from any of his four names – Charles, Philip, Arthur or George.
Let us go backwards. If Charles had titled himself as George, then he could be considered ruling as King George VII because the very last George was his granddad, Bertie, who became George VI in 1936. So why not George? George VI stayed in London even when Buckingham Palace was bombed in WWII, rallying the people, and becoming a national treasure. Probably all those other Georges didn’t serve as positive examples:
- George I, a mediocre German prince who spoke no English.
- George II, remembered for his army's brutal treatment of the Scots.
- George III lost the American colonies, and his faculties.
- George IV is remembered as a brainless scion of privilege who was treated that way by society at the time.
- George V whose reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the Indian independence movement, all of which radically changed the political landscape of the British Empire.
So, what of the other contenders: King Philip, King Arthur, or King Charles? Why did they not get the rose? We do not and may never know the King's thinking but based on the royal history drilled into him from birth, we can only guess.
King Arthur! No way… In the social media age, of course, you'd have to lean into the memes to make it work: meet only at round tables, appoint a court magician, pull golden Excalibur out of stones and present them to charities, etc. Charles at 73 is too old and too sensible to play the role of a modern myth.
Philip was a nonstarter. It was Charles' dad's name, but Philip of Greece was just a prince, not a king. England's last encounter with a King Philip was when Philip II of Spain technically co-ruled the country with his wife, Queen "Bloody" Mary, in the 16th century. Philip not only abandoned Mary, but he also tried to come back after she died to take the country from her sister Elizabeth. Beloved Liz the First beat back Philip's Armada; now Charles is going to replace beloved Liz the Second with a King Philip? Unthinkable.
Well, what about Charles? The present monarch of UK is Charles III. Who were other two?
Charles I (1625-1649)
The most interesting fact is that Charles lost his head at the end of not one but two Civil Wars that upended everything about England in the 1640s. His crime was officially noticed as “tyranny”. Charles thought he could rule without Parliament, or only assemble one when he needed the money. He was also suspected of Catholic sympathies at a time when the country was very Protestant, bustling with Puritans and Quakers. After the King was captured and killed, many of his supporters fled to America, often to the North and South Carolina States, so named in honour of Charles.
Charles II (1660-1685)
Known as "the Merry Monarch" or “playboy King”, Charles II was forced to accept the role of limited monarch to regain the throne and was known for religious tolerance.
Although it would be remembered as a time of great scientific advances with Charles’ Royal Society at the forefront (featuring a young Isaac Newton!), the 1660s were still dominated by superstition. The Great Plague of London came a mere five years into his rule. Followed by the Great Fire of London the following year should surely have seen off the King but with guile Charles survived these events. He was tall, handsome, sharp of mind, impeccably attired and charming.
Now we have an actual Charles III, who would probably prefer we forget the pretend one, not to mention the beheaded ancestor. But bearing the same name as these tragic Charleses can at least provide this comfort to the new King: by comparison, his reign has nowhere to go but up.