King Charles III: The Dubious History of King Charles I & II

KCharles III, the new heir to the throne, chose to continue to be ruled with the name that he was born with. It comes with baggage, however, as it is a British monarch.

Charles I was born 16 years ago and lived through a turbulent reign that culminated in his execution 49 year later. In between, he provoked a civil war and erased the notion of an all-powerful monarchy—or indeed, of any monarchy at all for the 11 years after his beheading outside Banqueting House in London.

Charles II was his son. He only returned to England after internal conflict caused the republic’s collapse. England’s Restoration period commenced when the second Charles took the throne in 1661.

However, it was a reduced monarchy. The civil war had been over whether England’s sovereign ruled with absolute authority.

Unlike his father, Charles II elected not to press the point, and the “merry monarch” was remembered mostly for his hedonism, many mistresses and deathbed conversion to Catholicism. The King Charles Spaniel is his name, descended from spaniel breeds that he owned.

Portrait of King Charles II of England, 1653. Oil on canvas. (Cleveland Museum of Art, Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Collection)

Portrait of King Charles II England (1653). Oil on canvas.

Cleveland Museum of Art Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Collection

At 73 years old, Charles III is the oldest British monarch to rise to the throne. The longest wait was for Charles’ seven-decade tenure as the heir apparent. As Prince of Wales, Charles had a great deal of time to decide what name to take when the throne became his—naming yourself being one of the absolute powers that remain. He had many names to choose from. The late Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and Charles Philip Arthur George were the parents of their first child.

In fact, reports surfaced seven years ago that the man who would be king was inclined to go with George VII – an homage to his grandfather, born Albert and known to his family, even after taking the throne, as Bertie. “It would not just be a tribute to his grandfather,” former Buckingham Palace spokesman Dickie Arbiter told the BBC in 2005, “but a sort of loving memory to his late grandmother, whom he absolutely adored.”

Also, The Times of London observed that year, beneath the Christmas Eve headline “Call me George, suggests Charles” ducking Charles III would also “avoid unhappy associations with some of the bloodiest periods in the monarchy’s history.”

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