Prince Charles May Not Become King Charles: Why His Regnal Title Could Change

When a royal ascends the throne, there’s an opportunity to pick a new name as well.

prince charles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Obviously Prince Charles is the next King of England, queuing up in the line of succession with Prince William behind him, who has Prince George behind him. But since Prince Charles has been in the public eye his entire life—a full 73 years—it’s hard to imagine him as anything other than Charles. However, when he does eventually become king, he’ll actually have the opportunity to pick a new name for himself.

If he takes the traditional approach to his "regnal title," as it's called, then as king he would become King Charles III—the first King Charles since the 17th century. But he doesn’t have to go the traditional route: According to Express UK, there is a seldom-used rule that he may take advantage of in order to adopt a new kingly name. His full name is Charles Philip Arthur George, which means that as King, Charles can adopt any of the names in the full title. King Arthur, perhaps?

And he wouldn’t be the first King to do so. His grandfather, King George VI (father of Queen Elizabeth II) took on the regnal title of George upon ascending the throne, though throughout his life most of his nearest and dearest called him by his first name, Albert. So was the case with both King Edward VII and King Edward the VIII, who chose Edward as their regnal titles despite growing up using their first names, Albert and David, respectively.

Prince Charles could choose to become King George VII or King Philip, as well.

Think of it as a potential kingly rebrand. Our vote is for King Arthur—though given this is about a literal monarchy, voting is probably the least relevant thing to this decision, huh?