AS the Princess Royal remarked this week of her brother, the new King: "You know what you're getting because he's been practising for a bit, and I don't think he'll change". Charles, she went on, was "committed to his own level of service, and that will remain true."

Charles, she went on, was “committed to his own level of service, and that will remain true.”

Charles was heir apparent for more than 70 years and today, aged 74 – a time of life when most of his peers have long since retired – he is finally anointed as King Charles III in a gilded, multi-faith ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Even if we have never actually met Charles, we feel as if we have come to know him, our impressions of him filtered through newspaper and television reports without number.

We remember his more distinctive comments – “to get the best results, you must talk to your vegetables”; “I feel so unsuited to the ghastly business of human intrigue and general nastiness”, and so on; we remember, with disapproval, the way he conducted himself during his turbulent marriage to Diana, and how he continued to associate with Camilla, the love of his life.

We recall his myriad obsessions, his dedication to his charitable work and to helping those less fortunate. We recall his quirks, his hobbies, his dislike of much modern architecture, his occasional abrasiveness, his so-called “meddling” in public affairs.

Once, asked what would become of that meddling once he succeeded his mother, he responded gamely: “I wouldn’t call it meddling, I would call it mobilising. I might still have some convening power that could be brought for use for various purposes actually”. It has been said of him that he has a “moral hardness” underneath: we have seen it, from time to time.

He has been described by confidants as sensitive and contemplative by nature, as someone who adores music, literature and the theatre. Clearly, he is a rounded individual, far from the caricature so familiar to us.

His love of Scotland is genuine and well-documented, from the joy he has derived from his holidays at Balmoral to his work at Dumfries House, in Ayrshire.

Not every Scot reciprocates this love, of course, but it is fair to say that he is widely admired north of the border.

It has to be acknowledged that, however much Charles was criticised and mocked for his oft-repeated fears about global warming and climate change, he was, without a shadow of a doubt, justified in bringing the subject to public attention time and again.

He was a key figure in the formation of the COP organisation, and his address at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 was praised for its insight. President Biden told him: “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here”.

It is typical of Charles that he touched on the subject this March when, addressing the German Bundestag on his first overseas visit as King, and speaking moreover in German, he referred to “the existential challenge of climate change and global warming which confronts us all”. On this subject, his heart, and his instincts, are in the right place.

In recent times, he has endured the controversies surrounding his younger brother, Andrew, and the still-sensitive issues that surround Harry and Meghan.

The royals have generally handled the fall-out from such matters with some skill, though it remains a pity that they were allowed to reach such a calamitous stage in the first place.

Charles’s private life is now all that he ever hoped it would be. Camilla, whom he married in 2005, has been seen as a strong and stabilising influence on him. “My son is home and dry with the woman he loves”, the Queen herself observed simply upon the occasion of the wedding.

What can we expect of our new monarch? What will his priorities be? Much will become clear in the coming days and weeks. Last September, in a moving televised address following the death of the Queen, he spoke of a sense of continuity between her long reign and his nascent one. He pledged to keep the Commonwealth together, and, “in the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.”

He has an abiding interest in faiths other than his own, and will be keen to act as a guardian of religious and cultural diversity. The multifaith service at Westminster Abbey is a reflection not only of this but also of the extent of tolerance in a Britain that become a multifaith democracy.

It could be that when historians look back on his reign, King Charles III could be viewed as the most reformative monarch in more than a century.

During his years as Prince of Wales, when he could offer his opinions more freely, he made no secret of his views on a slimmed-down monarchy, and it could be that it is a pared-down monarchy that secures it for the current and future Prince of Wales.

A party of five, of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children, could be styled on the simpler houses of European royal families. In Denmark, for example, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has been following a similar path by stripping family members of royal titles earlier this year.

When William succeeds his father, the three major royal titles will fall to George, the future Prince of Wales, perhaps with Charlotte as the next Princess Royal, a title which is bestowed by the monarch on the eldest daughter, while Louis would most likely be made Duke of Edinburgh.

All of this is necessarily in the future. Britain is about to enter a new chapter in its history, formalised and set in train this morning. As the ceaseless domestic and international attention paid to the Coronation attests, the British monarchy remains a unifying force and a source of fascination, with a formidable potential for soft power, which Charles knows how to deploy better than anyone.

He will of course not enjoy the sheer length of reign that his mother did; the telling phrase he included in his televised address last September, “throughout the remaining time God grants me ...” was a melancholy reminder of that. But he has trained for this job all of his life.

The monarchy is in safe hands, and we wish him well.