Elizabeth I’s personal motto was Semper Eadem – always the same. Other monarchs before and after her made do with Dieu et Mon Droit – God and My Right – which is more an assertion of sovereignty rather than an inspiration or an aspiration. Charles III has now inherited the regal motto from his mother as he passes Ich Dien along with the three feathers logo to his son William who will now serve as the new Prince of Wales. 

Monarchs are free to choose their own watchwords to live by. Scholars going through a royal copy of the Faerie Queene have discovered that the imprisoned Charles I adopted Dum Spiro Spero – while I breathe I hope. True enough, he could say that again and again all the way to the chopping block. 

The dutiful and inscrutable Elizabeth II was the living embodiment of muddling through. For much of her reign her personal motto amounting to Never Complain, Never Explain. It was just about enough to get her through until the Royal Family’s turbulent 1990’s, when she often found herself with some explaining to do, notably after the annus horribilis and death of Diana