King Charles Takes Over Son Prince Harry's Former Role as Captain General of the Royal Marines

King Charles III is stepping into a new royal role — one previously held by his son Prince Harry.

The King, 73, announced Friday that he will serve as the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines, taking on the role of Captain General. The announcement came on the 358th anniversary of the founding of the Corps of Royal Marines, formed in 1664 during the reign of King Charles II.

The role has been vacant since 2020 when then-Captain General Prince Harry stepped back from his position as a senior member of the royal family. Therefore, Harry and Meghan Markle gave up their royal involvement with numerous U.K. charities, and the patronages reverted to Queen Elizabeth.

The Duke of Sussex, who served in the British Army for 10 years and was deployed to Afghanistan twice, lost his three honorary military titles (Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command). During Queen Elizabeth's funeral events last month, he did not wear a military uniform like many of his family members, although an exception was made for the grandchildren's vigil.

Britain's King Charles III (L) walks with his son Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex as they arrive at St George's Chapel inside Windsor Castle on September 19, 2022, ahead of the Committal Service for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Britain's King Charles III (L) walks with his son Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex as they arrive at St George's Chapel inside Windsor Castle on September 19, 2022, ahead of the Committal Service for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II

DAVID ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty King Charles and Prince Harry

"His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears, and we respectfully ask that focus remains on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II," a spokesperson said.

Prince Harry, 38, took over the role in 2017 from his grandfather Prince Philip, who served as Captain General for 64 years.

RELATED: Spare — Inside the Heavy Meaning of Prince Harry's Upcoming Memoir Title

Prince Harry and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the Gurkha 200 Pageant at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on June 9, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Max
Prince Harry and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the Gurkha 200 Pageant at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on June 9, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Max

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Prince Harry and King Charles

The ceremonial head of the Royal Marines role has historically been held by the monarch, including King Charles' grandfather King George VI and great-grandfather King George V.

King Charles said it was the "greatest possible pleasure" to take on the role.

"I am exceptionally proud to follow in the footsteps of so many members of my family over the last three and a half centuries, all of whom held the role with a deep sense of admiration," he said in a statement. "The Royal Marines have a distinguished and unparalleled history, both on land and at sea. I draw immense inspiration from your courage, determination, self-discipline and a remarkable capacity to endure in the most extreme environments."

"I feel greatly honored to become part of the Corps Family and very much look forward to meeting many of you in the near future.  In the meantime, this comes with my heartfelt and special wishes for a very happy 358th birthday," he continued.

King Charles concluded with the Royal Marines' motto "Per Mare, Per Terram," which means "By Sea, By Land."

Earlier this year, Kate Middleton became the new royal patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League, assuming the role from her brother-in-law. It marked the first one of Prince Harry's former patronages to be redistributed to another member of the royal family.

England Rugby was among the charities to thank Prince Harry for his support in Feb. 2021, when it was confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would not be returning to their royal roles.

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The Duchess of Cambridge Joins England Rugby Training Session
The Duchess of Cambridge Joins England Rugby Training Session

Jeremy Selwyn - by WPA Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton

This week, it was announced that Prince Harry's memoir, titled Spare, will be released on Jan. 10, 2023.

According to the book's publisher, the Duke of Sussex will cover his "dedication to service, the military duty that twice took him to the frontlines of Afghanistan, and the joy he has found in being a husband and father. It offers an honest and captivating personal portrait, one that shows readers that behind everything they think they know about the Prince lies a story that is variably inspiring, courageous, and eye-opening."