Despite the coronation, the work on softening the King's image is not yet over

It was June 2020 and the then Prince Charles had just told me he missed hugs.

It was the height of COVID, he was in his sitting room in Scotland, and I was interviewing him via videocall about the pandemic and the environment.

Even his communications secretary at the time was surprised about what he had said about missing friends and family.

He wasn't expected to open up in that way. But in terms of his image, it was a big winner for them because it showed his more human side.

It was unusual. During my time following the royals, I had quickly realised that very little was left to chance when it came to cultivating his image.

And that has made it even more interesting this weekend to see if the hard work of courtiers has paid off.

Only about five years ago I remember having conversations with people inside the palace on how the public felt about Charles and how they were trying to shape him in people's minds as a worthy future King, albeit in the most subtle way, this wasn't about overshadowing his mother, the Queen.

We saw the culmination of that work this weekend.

Walking in the Abbey on Saturday for the service I saw a number of those who had worked for the King. Some potentially reflecting proudly on how they had helped to get him to this point.

Certainly since his 70th birthday his image has been softened to become less of the crusading outspoken prince and more of a grandfather doing his bit for generations to come.

But from what I witnessed, this weekend it's obvious the work is not over.

Read more:
The best of Windsor's coronation concert
'This is boring': King caught on camera before coronation
Tom Cruise delivers special mid-air message to King

King faces restrictions on what he can say and do as monarch

Inside the palace they will have seen the pictures of demonstrations and been aware of the constant polling about their popularity in the lead-up to the event.

I was in the crowd at Windsor for the coronation concert and between the performances there were constant reminders of the King's work with young people and on the environment.

What is tricky now are the restrictions he faces in terms of what he can say and do as monarch. That's where his high-profile supporters will come in handy; take for example Stella McCartney at the concert, saying what in the past he might have said on sustainability.

Again, this weekend the walkabout has also been deployed.

King and Queen know how to work a crowd

Both of the King and Queen know how to work a crowd. It's been striking how people feel they can touch his arm in a way you never saw with Queen Elizabeth II.

That relaxed easy manner is something I saw first-hand on the couple of occasions that I interviewed him at Clarence House. He was warm, funny, interested in my life in a way that other high-profile individuals sometimes aren't.

But don't get me wrong he can have a temper which can be difficult for the palace to publicly manage - some will recall the problems with pens following the Queen's death.

He also wasn't happy with me when on a tour to Jordan I asked him how the Queen was after she had missed Remembrance Sunday. He gave me the look that said he did not want to answer me but eventually said: "Once you get to 95, it's not quite as easy as it used to be. It's bad enough at 73".

Brand King remains a work in progress

And that's the thing, you're never going to change a man in his 70s and you're not necessarily going to make him a big hit with the younger generation.

But it won't stop them trying to at least make sure he is seen as an acceptable figurehead for the monarchy.

The release of the official portraits draws to a close the efforts that went into organising this historic weekend. The job of shaping brand King remains a work in progress.