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It may seem obvious that King Charles III kept his birth name as his reign name when he… ascended the British throne on the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
But an anonymous source once claimed that Prince Charles at the time was considering another name, which he wanted to avoid appeal to the controversial legacies of the British Charles I and Charles II.
A “trusted friend” told the London Times in 2005 that the Prince of Wales might avoid the name Charles, claiming it was “infused with so much grief.”
The same source reported that Charles was considering making his government name George VII instead to honor his grandfather George VI.
Charles I was notorious for sparring with the English parliament – a tense relationship that led to the English Civil War and his eventual execution.
Charles was criticized for marrying Queen Henrietta Maria, who was a Catholic, and disbanding parliament on a whim when faced with disagreements. The controversial monarch once even dissolved parliament for 11 years.
After his Royalist army was defeated by Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians during the English Civil War, Charles was executed in 1649. He remains the only English monarch to be tried and executed for treason.
His son, Charles II, was exiled for nearly ten years before finally ascending the throne in 1660.
The legacy of Charles II was also controversial. Like his father, Charles II had dissolved Parliament in 1679 and ruled himself until his death in 1685. He was also sympathetic to Catholics and even converted to Catholicism on his deathbed, infuriating English Protestants.
The hedonistic king was nicknamed “The Merry Monarch” for a court known for debauchery, adultery and gambling. Historians claim that Charles II, who surrounded himself with libertines and bawdy courtesans, fathered at least 14 illegitimate children.
But to what extent the current King Charles III considered the legacies of the two 17th-century kings is unknown. An anonymous source disputed the claim published in the London Times.
“Anyone who knows the Prince of Wales knows he’s not talking to his comrades about what he wants to be called,” the source told The Guardian at the time. “As far as officials have discussed it with him in accession planning meetings, the thought was that he would stay, Charles.”