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Will Prince Charles Change His Name When He Becomes King?

Here's why the heir apparent might not be known as King Charles III.
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Prince Charles was nine when he was given the title the Prince of Wales. He's now 68 and is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history. As speculation around the day he inherits the throne gains momentum, questions around his future title are bubbling up. Will we be welcoming the reign of King Charles III?

Back in 2005, multiple reports said the Prince had discussed giving up the title Charles III because of unfortunate associations with previous monarchs named Charles. (Charles I was the only member of the monarchy to be tried and executed for treason, and his son, Charles II, who was known for his legendary love life, ruled during a particularly nasty bout of the plague and the Great Fire of London.)


Prince Chales and Queen Elizabeth II at the state opening of parliament in 2013

According to The Guardian, the Prince, who was christened Charles Philip Arthur George, held private talks with “trusted friends” about the possibility of using his third middle name and reigning as George VII. And former Buckingham Palace press spokesman Dickie Arbiter said by using the name George, Charles would be paying tribute to the both his grandparents.

"It would not just be a tribute to his grandfather [King George VI], but a sort of loving memory to his late grandmother, whom he absolutely adored," Arbiter told the BBC at the time.

But Clarence House quickly denied these claims. "No decision has been made and it will be made at the time,” Charles’ representatives said in response to the news.

Some royal experts also think it's unlikely the future king is considering ruling with a different name. "I think it’s very probable that he will be King Charles III," journalist and author Penny Junor told Town&Country. "I think there is no good reason why he might not."

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Royal biographer Marcia Moody agrees. "He is 68 years old at the moment, and if the Queen takes after her mother and lives past the age of 100, Charles will be in his late seventies by the time he takes to the throne," she said. "He has dedicated his life to championing causes close to his heart, and he has been doing that as HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. The continuity of his work would be clearer if he progressed as King Charles. Additionally, many of the British public will be devastated at the loss of the queen, and even those who are not monarchists will be coming to terms with the first new head of state in around 70 years, so Charles will want to promote stability and constancy."


George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939

But royal name changes are not uncommon. Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria and was given the nickname Drina, but she went on to rule as Victoria. Her eldest son King Edward VII, who was on the throne from 1901 to 1910, was christened Albert Edward.

The last king, George VI, was also called Albert and was known to his family as Bertie. It's widely believed that he chose to rule under his middle name in honor of his father George V, who died in 1936. So, if Charles does opt for George VII, he'll also be paying tribute to his maternal grandfather.


The royal family at Buckingham Palace in 2016

There's also been recent debate over what the Duchess of Cornwall's title will be when Charles becomes King. On their wedding day, Clarence House revealed Camilla would use the title Princess Consort, instead of the traditional Queen Consort, when her husband ascends the throne. But royal insider Sally Bedell Smith says Camilla is "entitled" to be Queen. "If she were anything less than Queen Consort it would imply inferiority on her part," Bedell Smith told People.

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Whether the future monarch's title is George VI or Charles III, it's likely the King will always be known as Charlie, no matter which title he chooses.

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Katie Jones
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