When Queen Elizabeth II passed away last month, King Charles III became the first British monarch to take the throne in the 21st century.
As the Queen reigned for over 70 years, this will be the first time that most UK residents witness the ascension and coronation of a new king.
Insiders say Charles is well aware of the pressure to lead the monarchy into a new era and prove to the world that the British Royal Family is still a vibrant, vital institution.
Some say Charles is determined to do away with the rancor and back-biting that seem to have characterized life among the royals in recent years.
He certainly gave that impression in his first speech as king, when he wished Harry and Meghan well “as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
Others say Charles wants to send a message that he’s every bit the stickler for the rules that his mother was.
And they say that that agenda is reflected in the first official portrait of Charles as king (above).
According to royal expert Richard Kay’s new piece for The Daily Mail, the photo is more than meets the eye, as it contains several subtle cues about Charles’ intentions as king and his vision for the future of the royal family.
“The photograph is brimming with symbolism of course: the new sovereign is pictured with his son and heir, while looming behind them is a glowering portrait of King George III, the longest-reigning male monarch in British history,” Kay writes.
The journalist then notes that the photo of was taken on the eve of the Queen’s funeral, a reminder to the world that the business of monarchy never stops.
He also points out that the facial expressions and body language are more relaxed than what we’re accustomed to seeing from the royals.
“There is another significant factor here too. And it is a not-so-subtle nod to his wishes for a slimmed-down monarchy: one he believes will be more relevant and more resilient,” Kay writes.
“Some will wonder if this is not just slimming down, but cutting to the bone. The unspoken elephant in the room is the absence of the King’s younger son.”
Kay goes on to argue that it’s easy to imagine how Harry and Meghan might react to the photo before admitting that he has no idea how they might react.
“It is not difficult to imagine how this picture will be viewed in sunny California, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are based,” Kay writes.
“Might it deepen their feelings of exclusion and exile, or will it merely serve to remind them why they chose to break from the family in the first place?” he asks.
Kay goes on to suggest that the Windsors chose to take the photo while the Sussexes were still in London so that the choice to exclude the couple would be even more evident.
“It surely can be no coincidence that the picture was taken when the couple were still in Britain and several days before they returned home to their children Archie and Lilibet,” Kay writes.
“It must, therefore, be yet another signal that they will never again return to their central role in royal life.”
It’s important to bear in mind when reading articles like Kay’s that the British tabloid press is made up almost entirely of bitter, angry weirdos who want everyone to be as miserable as they are.
So here’s what really happened: Harry and Meghan were left out of the photo because they’re no longer working royals.
That’s it. That’s the entire story.
But Kay gets a giddy little thrill out of imagining that Charles is the sort of man who would publicly throw shade at his own son on the eve of his mother’s funeral.
Bit sad, innit?