The ups and downs at the start of King Charles III’s reign

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The King faced personal troubles and a political row in the early months of his reign as Charles III.

With his youngest son, the Duke of Sussex, laying bare his fraught relationships with the royal family on the most public of platforms, the rifts widened thanks to the Sussexes’ Netflix documentary and Harry’s autobiography, Spare.

Charles, the former Prince of Wales and the nation’s longest serving heir to the throne, acceded to the throne on September 8 2022 on the death of his mother, Elizabeth II.

Harry and Meghan call daughter Princess Lilibet
Staff unwrapping copies of Harry’s autobiography at Waterstones Piccadilly in January (James Manning/PA)

“That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today,” he said.

The King and the new Queen Consort no doubt were nervous at the response they might receive when they returned to Buckingham Palace for the first time to see the floral tributes.

Queen Elizabeth II death
A well-wisher kisses the hand of King Charles III during a walkabout outside Buckingham Palace to view messages and tributes (Yui Mok/PA)

Cheers rang out with shouts of “hip, hip, hooray” and the King received a kiss on the cheek from one woman, and a kiss on the hand from another.

Less than a year into his new role, the 74-year-old is adapting to life as head of the royal family and the nation, completing a number of milestones, from his first Christmas broadcast to his first overseas state visit.

He used his first festive message to sympathise with families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and praise those supporting people in need.

King’s Christmas broadcast
Charles III during the recording of his first Christmas broadcast in December 2022 (Victoria Jones/PA)

But amid the steady stream of official duties, the monarch has faced challenges.

A “constitutionally unwise” meeting between the King and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen angered unionists as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sought their support over the new post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

Charles welcomed Ms Von der Leyen to Windsor Castle at the end of her busy day following a joint press conference with Mr Sunak to outline the new deal dubbed the “Windsor Framework”.

Audience at Windsor Castle
The King receives European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during an audience at Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Baroness Arlene Foster, the former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and first minister of Northern Ireland, said the meeting in Windsor Castle was “crass and will go down very badly”.

Buckingham Palace said Charles was acting on “the Government’s advice”. Downing Street said it was “fundamentally” a decision for the King.

In December, eggs were thrown at the King and Camilla during a walkabout in York, but missed and the pair were ushered away by security.

A man was later founding guilty of threatening behaviour and given a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work for what the magistrate described as the “unprovoked, targeted and pre-planned use of violence against what was, after all, a 74-year-old man”.

Logistical setbacks came in the form of the cancellation of the first state visit of the King’s reign.

Charles and the Queen Consort were due to head to France but the trip was shelved at the last minute in March following riots across the country over pension reforms.

King Charles III State Visit to Germany – Day 2
The King addresses members during a visit to the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, in Berlin (Chris Jackson/PA)

Meanwhile, Charles and other royals faced criticism from Harry in his controversial tell-all book at the start of the year.

Harry’s memoir, Spare, included claims that the Prince of Wales physically attacked him and teased him about his panic attacks, and that the King put his own interests above Harry’s and was jealous of Meghan and the Princess of Wales.

Harry also branded Camilla the “villain” and “dangerous” in interviews, accusing her of rehabilitating her image at the expense of his.

Two months later, it emerged Harry and Meghan has been asked to vacate Frogmore Cottage, their UK property close to Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II death
The Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex put on a show of unity at Windsor Castle after the death of the Queen (Chris Jackson/PA)

Debate over whether the Sussexes’ children would use – or even get to keep – the titles of prince and princess that they became entitled to, when the Queen died, were resolved in March when Harry and Meghan announced “Princess Lilibet” had been christened, and it emerged there had been correspondence with the King on the matter.

Charles also handed the title the Duke of Edinburgh on to his brother, Prince Edward, fulfilling the wishes of his late father and the Queen.

With the coronation just days away, the anti-monarchy group Republic is planning its demonstrations for May 6, and questions have been raised about the undisclosed budget for the multi-million pound event while the nation faces a cost of living crisis.

Royal visit to Liverpool
Protesters wait for the arrival of King Charles III and the Queen Consort for their visit to Liverpool Central Library (Jon Super/PA)

Harry accused Clarence House in a witness statement of “seemingly blocking our every move” as part of a strategy to keep the media “onside in order to smooth the way for my stepmother, and father, to be accepted by the British public as Queen Consort and King respectively”.

While Meghan is staying in the US, Charles, William and the rest of royals will face Harry at the coronation in Westminster Abbey.

He will join the Windsors for the first time in public since the Queen’s funeral, to witness his father and stepmother being crowned.

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