It’s Charles III’s first birthday as King next week. How will it be marked?

Linda Rider

A version of this story appeared in the November 11 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.


One of the bonuses of being the British monarch is that you get to celebrate your birthday twice: on your actual birthday and on your official one.

According to Buckingham Palace, “official celebrations to mark the Sovereigns’ birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer. King Edward VII, for example, was born on 9 November, but his official birthday was marked throughout his reign in May or June when there was a greater likelihood of good weather for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping of the Colour.”

Queen Elizabeth II continued that tradition because her birthday fell outside the summer months, on April 21. She typically celebrated her actual date of birth privately at Windsor Castle but it was usually marked by gun salutes. And if it was a milestone occasion, she would pop out for a brief walkabout as she did for her 80th and 90th birthdays.

King Charles III is widely expected to keep to the tradition of celebrating twice because his birthday is in the cold, dark winter – November 14, to be specific.

Many British monarchs have enjoyed birthday celebrations twice a year.

What we do know about Monday is that there will be lots of gun salutes.

The festivities will start at 11 a.m. (6 a.m. ET) with a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the band of the Household Cavalry at Buckingham Palace. The palace is where Charles was born in 1948, when his grandfather, King George VI, was still on the throne.

That performance will be followed at midday by a 41-gun royal salute from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in nearby Green Park. The Band of the Scots Guards will then perform another rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

An hour later, the Honourable Artillery Company will fire a 62-gun salute over at the Tower of London.

Gun salutes are customarily given as a sign of respect or welcome, according to the British Army. A salute with an open hand was used historically to show that no weapon was concealed in the palm, so the firing of cannon as a salute indicates the friendly intent of an empty chamber. Today, gun salutes are fired in the United Kingdom on significant royal anniversaries.

The number of rounds fired depends on the place and occasion. The basic royal salute is the traditional 21 rounds. In Green Park or Hyde Park, in central London, an extra 20 rounds are added because the salute is taking place in a Royal Park. At the Tower of London, the rounds go up to 62: the basic 21, plus an additional 20 because the site is a Royal Palace and Fortress, and then another 21 to show loyalty from the City of London, which has its own jurisdiction, separate from the rest of London.

King Charles still resides at Clarence House, so we can expect well-wishers to congregate there, hoping for a glimpse of the monarch and maybe even a walkabout to mark his very first birthday as sovereign.

First posthumous statue of the Queen unveiled.

It was probably a poignant moment for the King on Wednesday as he unveiled a new statue of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, two months after her death. The new six-feet-seven-inch sculpture sits in a previously empty niche at the west front of York Minster, a spectacular 800-year-old cathedral in northern England. The effigy was originally commissioned to mark the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee and pay tribute to her lifelong service to the country and Commonwealth. “The late Queen was always vigilant for the welfare of her people during her life,” Charles said during a special ceremony at the cathedral. “Now her image will watch over what will become Queen Elizabeth Square for centuries to come.” Read the full story here.

The statue of Queen Elizabeth II sits on the west front of York Minster in northern England.

King Charles keeps calm and cracks on.

Speaking of the King’s visit to York … it was a bit more egg-citing than anticipated. Earlier in the day, as the King and Queen Consort were being welcomed by city leaders, a man caused a ruckus in the crowd by appearing to throw eggs at the new sovereign during his walkabout. The King looked remarkably nonchalant as several eggs sailed through the air past him. All missed and Charles was directed away by city officials. The King didn’t appear in the least bit perturbed and continued greeting crowds. During the incident, people in the crowd were heard booing, and chanting “God save the King,” according to footage from the event. North Yorkshire police later confirmed to CNN that a 23-year-old man had been arrested in relation to the incident on suspicion of a public order offense. The man was interviewed and released on police bail, the force said in an update on Thursday. Watch the moment here.

The King avoided ending up in a sticky situation while on walkabout in York.

Check out Camilla’s new monogram.

The Queen Consort has selected a new cipher. Revealed on Monday, it depicts her monogram – “C” for Camilla and “R” for Regina (Latin for Queen) – beneath a representation of the Crown, according to a Buckingham Palace statement. “The cypher is The Queen Consort’s personal property and was selected by Her Majesty from a series of designs,” it added. Camilla will use the cipher on her personal letterhead, cards and gifts. It was designed by Ewan Clayton, a professor and calligrapher at the Royal Drawing School, who collaborated with Timothy Noad, herald painter and scrivener at the College of Arms, according to the palace. The Royal Collection shared examples of ciphers used by previous Queens Consort. Check them out here.

The new cipher incorporates Camilla's monogram and the Crown.

Prince William has fond -- and frustrating -- memories of England matches.

Being an England fan is tough: Prince William joins football royalty for candid chat.

In just a couple of weeks, fans across the country will funnel into pubs, bars, living rooms, school halls, town squares and city streets to cheer on the England soccer team – an experience that made some of the Prince of Wales’ strongest memories, he revealed.

“Playing football when I was younger was the best. It just bred everything,” the Prince of Wales said, as he sat down for a chat with England stars Harry Kane and Declan Rice, who will shortly travel to Qatar to play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “Then as I got older I wanted to be more involved in what the national team were up to. Quite a strong memory of the early days was donning an England shirt and going to the pub with my mates and watching England play in the big tournaments.”

The England men’s team have excelled in recent tournaments, performing above expectations to reach the semi-final of the previous World Cup and the final of the European Championships – narrowly and agonizingly losing out both times. The highs and lows of elite sport make for turbulent nights for players and fans alike.

The heir to the throne said handling some of those past results had been hard. “I found that really difficult, because the same euphoria that we had comes crashing down and whistles away,” he said. “You feel all on a high, you feel all together – and then suddenly normal life gets back on again. You think: Where did all that go? Was that real? What happened? How do I get that back?

“Football has that ability to put it all on a plate for you and then suddenly take it all away and go – ‘until next time.’” William continued.

The conversation highlighted the importance of mental health support in the build-up to the tournament. During the chat, William flagged the charity Shout, which was established in 2017 using a founding grant from the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Royal Foundation. It offers a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone in distress. “You might feel at that moment that there’s nowhere else to go,” said William. “But if you can get someone through that moment, there is brighter light coming out of the other side of it. So Shout was there to catch people – like a support network – and carry them through those darker moments.”

The prince wished the players well as they hope to go one step further than the last tournament and bring the trophy home. Watch the full conversation here.

Kate has long advocated for better mental health support.

The Princess of Wales appeared to be in great spirits on Wednesday, when she visited Colham Manor Children’s Centre in Uxbridge, England, in her capacity as patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. Like William and Harry, Kate has been a vocal advocate for mental health support. Her visit was designed to emphasize the work of the facility and showcase the positive effect holistic care can have on families impacted by perinatal mental health issues, Kensington Palace said.

Princess Märtha Louise and her fiancé, Durek Verrett, in Oslo

Princess of Norway gives up royal duties to run business with shaman fiancé.

It has certainly been a year of changes for European royals. This week, it was announced that Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise is withdrawing from official royal duties in order to concentrate on the alternative medicine business she runs with her fiancé, American spiritual guru Durek Verrett. The 51-year-old princess, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, “will not be representing the Royal House at the present time,” according to a statement from the royal household, published Tuesday. In the statement, Märtha Louise acknowledges her long-standing interest in “alternative methods” of treatment, which, she says, “can be an important supplement to help from the conventional medical establishment.” Read the full story here.

“Here in Doncaster, you have, of course, a great deal of which to be proud: from your Roman origins two thousand years ago, to your crucial role in the Industrial Revolution and in the creation of this nation’s railway network, to the pre-eminent place you occupy in the horse-racing world.”

King Charles III was on hand to celebrate the conferral of city status upon Doncaster in Yorkshire, northern England, on Wednesday.

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