While some suggest King Charles is steadying the ship before Prince William and Princess Kate take over, a palace source says the monarch is "keen to make his mark"
Since the death of Queen Elizabeth one year ago on Sept. 8, 2022, some have suggested that King Charles steadying the ship before his heir, Prince William, takes over as monarch with his wife, Princess Kate, by his side.
One close insider exclusively tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story that King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 76, will "provide the best possible platform for William and Kate to go forward."
However, palace sources deny that Charles sees himself as a “caretaker King.”
"He will be keen to make his mark in whatever time he has and champion those brilliant causes he is interested in — like the environment, sustainability, art,” a palace insider says. “You don’t go into a position like that with an idea of how long or short it would be."
Adds Robert Hardman, royal biographer and author of Queen of Our Times: "I don’t think he is going to be blessed with many jubilees, but he has plenty of time to make a difference."
While Queen Elizabeth was a steady presence in the lives of Britains throughout her historic 70-year reign, younger generations are skeptical of the monarchy — and King Charles and the royals are working to ensure that "the Firm" — as Prince Philip famously called the family — stays relevant in the U.K. and in the Commonwealth realms around the world, including Canada and Australia, where Charles is head of state.
"That will be a challenge," says Hardman.
While King Charles has kept many of the traditions from Queen Elizabeth's reign — from spending his summer break at Balmoral Castle to hosting the royal family at Sandringham for Christmas — he has also put his own spin on the role of monarch.
Reflecting her generation, Queen Elizabeth greeted the public at a distance and through a gloved hand — but King Charles takes a less formal approach.
"His ability to engage with everybody is a real plus. It has proven he is the right man for the right moment," says royals author Ingrid Seward.
A palace source adds, “He’s always very warm with people and is curious about their lives.”
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William and Kate, both 41, were officially made the Prince and Princess of Wales by King Charles the day after his accession. The swift action showed their elevated positions within the family.
“Charles is leading the way for them already, and [William and Kate] are both involved in decision-making behind the scenes. They are ready and willing to do the job — and Kate is very much a part of that,” a friend of the princess tells PEOPLE.
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