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As 2023 begins, a royal record beckons for King Charles III

As Charles III begins a New Year, a milestone is beckoning in the summer months of 2023. For in August this year, His Majesty’s reign will overtake that of a king with a famously truncated rule. And that milestone will take him one step further away from having one of the shortest reigns in British history.

As of January 1st 2023, His Majesty has reigned for 125 days. That places him either third or fourth on the list of shortest reigns, depending on your point of view.

The shortest reign in British history is debated and depends on whether you believe one young woman ever really held the throne. For those who think that Lady Jane Grey was really Queen of England, hers is the shortest tenure. The Privy Council backed her as Monarch on the death of the Edward VI, in 1553. The Protestant king had named Jane as his heir in fevered circumstances, his desire to keep the new faith in power outweighing anything else. However, just nine days later, the Edward’s half sister, Mary, had won the support of the country. That meant Jane was queen, in name at least, for just nine days, from July 10th until July 19th 1553.

However, she spent all that time in the Tower of London and was, despite her best efforts, at the command of others. She is considered by some not to have been monarch at all. In that case, the shortest reign belongs to a relation of hers, the equally ill fated Edward V. When he was just 12, Edward unexpectedly became King on the death of his father, Edward IV. No one was ready for a child king and the new monarch became the subject of power battles between factions who hoped to rule in his place. His father’s brother, Richard, took an unbeatable lead in this fight when he took his nephew into ‘’protective custody’’, placing him in the Tower of London. Soon afterwards, Richard declared that Edward was, in fact, illegitimate and the true king was, in fact, himself. Edward’s reign lasted from April 9th until June 25th 1483, a total of 78 days.

This summer, King Charles III will pass another milestone. His great uncle, Edward VIII, ruled for 11 months before abdicating his throne to marry Wallis Simpson. That is the shortest completed reign for the House of Windsor. Charles will overtake that in August 2023.

It is expected that His Majesty will rule for many more years to come.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.