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King Charles III

Is the new Royal Family Order one step closer?

For seasoned royal watchers, there’s really only one mystery left to wrap up King Charles III’s accession to the throne: his Royal Family Order.

Given out as a personal gift from the Sovereign to female members of the Royal Family, the Royal Family Order has been a staple within the British Royal family since King George IV’s reign in the 1820s.

Since his accession in September 2022, The King has had only a small handful of events where the women would wear their Royal Family Orders, but interest has reached a fever pitch on social media in the last few weeks, enough so that royal reporters posted on X (formerly Twitter) not to expect its debut at last month’s South Korea State Banquet.

On December 5th 2023, King Charles will host the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace, an event for the entire diplomatic corps based in the United Kingdom. It’s a white-tie affair with tiaras, orders, and it could result in the debut of the Royal Family Order of King Charles III.

Rebecca English, the royal reporter at the Daily Mail posted on X just ahead of the event that she wasn’t certain The King’s order would debut, but that she’d heard, last time she asked, that The King’s portrait had been chosen, but not created yet.

Every successive Monarch has issued their own order, with subtle differences between them. All feature a portrait of the monarch painted in miniature, but the attached ribbon changes with each reign.

King George IV’s was pale white silk; King William IV did not issue one; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert issued a joint one with a cameo of both of their faces on a white silk ribbon; King Edward VII based his on his racing colours, which were blue and red with a strip of white; King George V’s was pale blue; King George VI’s was pale pink; and Queen Elizabeth II’s was pale yellow.

Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal Family Order to working female members of the Royal Family. Among them were her grandmother, Queen Mary; her mother, Queen Elizabeth; her sister, Princess Margaret; her daughter, Princess Anne; her daughters-in-law, Queen Camilla, the Duchess of Edinburgh, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales; her granddaughter-in-law, Catherine; her aunts Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone; her cousin, Princess Alexandra; and the current Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester.

To the public’s knowledge, the current Princess of Wales is the final recipient of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II. She received hers in 2017 and it was the first to have a portrait painted on glass instead of ivory, stemming from her husband’s crusade to stop using ivory.

The gifting of the Royal Family Order is always private and it’s generally unknown that a woman has received it until she wears it to a white-tie event, which is the only dress code that royal ladies wear their orders in the modern age.

If King Charles follows in his mother’s footsteps, it’s likely that only Queen Camilla, the Princess of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Edinburgh, the Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Alexandra will receive them, as working royals.

He could choose to gift it to Princess Charlotte, despite her not being a working royal, as there is precedence for this. King George V gifted his granddaughters, then-Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, with his Order. They were young children during their grandfather’s reign, and were only nine- and six-years-old when he died in 1936.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.