Britain awaits the coronation of Charles III. What will be the future of the monarchy? Will King Charles III, aged in his seventies, have the will, the personality and the strength to equal the popular public figure of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II? Will the rest of the family, too, behave themselves in a manner appropriate to their position?
King Charles III has been the longest serving heir apparent, a title that he held from 3-years-old. He is now the oldest person in Britain to ascend to a throne. He is also the third British king called Charles. Who were the other two?
The Blood-soaked Legacy of Charles I
Charles I succeeded his father James I in 1625 as King of England and Scotland. He was a disastrous king, his actions frustrated Parliament and resulted in three English Civil Wars between the king’s army and the parliament. Charles believed he had the royal prerogative to rule and raise money apart from Parliament.
The reign of King Charles I caused the bloodiest conflict in the history of the British Isles. Between 1642 and 1651, 200,000 civilians died, directly or indirectly, through the Civil Wars. The English countryside was bathed in blood, as Englishmen plundered Englishmen.
Eventually, by necessity, Parliament defeated Charles I and they charged him with treason. The king refused to answer the charges as he did not recognize the authority of the High Court. The Court proclaimed Charles a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy. He was beheaded on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall in 1649.
Though a scoundrel, Charles faced his death with courage and dignity, giving the executioner a signal that he was ready to be beheaded. Politicians pushed through legislation to prevent Charles II from succeeding his father.
Blood-Soaked Legacy of King Charles Continued
Charles II had attempted to save his father in 1948, but to no avail. His blood-soaked legacy continued. At age 20 he was defeated on the battlefield by Cromwell. He disguised himself and hid in an oak tree.
While in exile, his supporters crowned him King of Scotland, and he ruled between 1649 and 1651. This was in defiance to the English republic. There was a £1000 reward for his capture, but he escaped to France.
Charles II was cynical, self-indulgent, and resisted his mother’s attempt to convert him to Catholicism, remaining openly Protestant.
A young king Charles II of Britain
In 1660, Charles became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was 30-years old. He had unprecedented authority to maintain a standing army, and purged the boroughs of dissident officials, in the continuing reign of blood-soaked legacy.
With the newly reinstated monarchy, Charles was a very eligible bachelor. In 1662, he married Princess Catherine of Braganza of Portugal. Not only did he receive a huge dowry from the Portuguese but also the colonies of Bombay and Tangier as part of the marriage treaty.
Charles had an income of £1,200,000 but he was incapable of thrift. Combined with negligence and maladministration the reputation of the king sank to its lowest level.
The queen suffered several miscarriages and reduced the hope for a legitimate heir. The English were discontented with their king, as it seemed he could not produce a legitimate heir.
A Papal plot and lots of illegitimate kids
King Charles II faced the severest political storm of his reign in 1678, when it was discovered there was a plan to murder and replace him with his Catholic brother, James.
In 1681, he dissolved Parliament and enjoyed a nationwide surge of loyalty.
Charles had at least 14 illegitimate offspring and his seven mistresses proved costly and often troublesome. He believed God would not make a man miserable for taking a little pleasure along the way. His image as a man was more attractive than his reputation as a king.
King Charles II was lazy but popular
Despite his habitual laziness and hatred of routine and shifty insincerity, King Charles was charismatic and popular. One of his legacies was the founding of the Royal Society, which featured a young Isaac Newton. During the reign of Charles II, Christopher Wren built St. Paul’s Cathedral and puritanism was relaxed. Women were allowed to be seen on the stage and King Charles made King Charles Spaniels famous. Hence the photo of one of these cuties. Cuter than the kings.
In 1685, Charles II died following a time of tranquil prosperity. Charles had no legitimate children, but Princess Diana was descended from two of his illegitimate children, through her two great-grandmothers, Adelaide Seymour and Rosalind Bingham.
Pretender King Charles III
King James, his brother lived in exile, but his son, Charles Edward Stuart, more commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, set up court in Scotland, on behalf of his father. Charles tried to take England, but was defeated at the battle of Culloden.
Exiled to France then Italy, Charles passed his days in a blur of drink and a miserable marriage to a German princess. On the death of his father, he styled himself as Charles III.
Neither the kings of France and Spain, nor the Pope, acknowledged Charles as a legitimate king. The blood-soaked legacy of all three King Charles, must have left the nation wondering why they needed a king?
Now we have the true King Charles III
There was never a King Charles III of England until now when Prince Charles ascended the throne on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
She was a Brand and National Treasure and ruled England for 70 years with courage, wisdom, restraint. She remained calm in the face of numerous traumatic events and dedicated her life to duty.
Charles’ life has had its share of controversy, but the world wishes him well in his new role. The name King Charles III will hopefully create a totally different legacy to those before him.
Photo Source: Unsplash
Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.