King Charles III cypher: what does the R stand for in new royal monogram - latin origins explained

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The monogram was personally chosen by the new King, from a range of designs produced by the College of Arms

The cypher of King Charles III has been revealed ahead of its appearance on government buildings, state documents and post boxes in the coming months and years.

With the new monogram revealed, what is the story behind the design and what do the symbols mean?

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What does the Cypher feature?

The monogram includes the King’s initial C intertwined with the letter R for Rex, which is Latin for King. This system of denoting the King is used by various Commonwealth realms, with R also standing for Regina, meaning Queen.

The Roman numbers, III, also feature within the R to denote Charles III, and the crown sits above the letters.

Photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022.Photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022.
Photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022. | PA/Buckingham Palace

A new royal era

The new monarch travelled to Scotland soon after the Queen’s funeral last Monday, with the period of royal mourning lasting for seven days after the late Queen’s burial.

The monogram is Charles’ personal property and was personally chosen by the King from a range of designs produced by the College of Arms.

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A Scottish version features the Scottish Crown and was approved by Lord Lyon King of Arms. It will be used by government departments and by the Royal Household for franking mail.

The decision to replace cyphers will be at the discretion of individual organisations with the process being a gradual one. In some instances, the cyphers of previous monarchs can still be seen on public buildings and street furniture especially post boxes.

photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the Scottish version of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022.photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the Scottish version of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022.
photo issued by Buckingham Palace of the Scottish version of the new cypher that will be used by King Charles III. Issue date: Monday September 26, 2022. | PA/Buckingham Palace

Who designed the new Cypher?

The College of Arms, who design the royal cyphers, was founded in 1484 and is responsible for creating and maintaining official registers of coats of arms and pedigrees. The heralds who make up the College are members of the Royal Household and act under Crown authority.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said of replacing the late Queen’s cypher with the Charles’ monogram: “Where changes can be made easily, such as digital branding, they can be made immediately.

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“Physical items such as signage or stationery will be replaced gradually over time as the need arises.”

What other changes will mark the new reign? 

Other changes to mark the reign of King Charles III include new bank notes featuring a portrait of the King. These are “expected to enter circulation by mid-2024” according to the Bank of England, with the image to be revealed before the end of this year

The Royal Mint has said that new coins will be released and will appear “in line with demand from banks and post offices”. However, there is no date set for when they will be in use, but an image of the new King Charles coins will be revealed before they enter circulation. 

Existing banknotes and coins will continue to be valid, with Charles and Elizabeth’s notes and coins being used alongside each other. The Royal Mint says there are approximately 27 billion coins from Queen Elizabeth II’s reign in circulation

The Royal Mail has also confirmed new stamps featuring the King will “enter circulation once current stocks of stamps are exhausted”

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