, the world’s newest monarch, was officially proclaimed sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Saturday morning in a constitutional ceremony dating back hundreds of years. Nearly 700 members of the current Accession Council, the oldest functioning part of the British government, were convened on Saturday at London’s St James’s Palace, the official residence of Britain’s kings and queens for centuries.
The council is made up of Privy Counsellors, a select group of leading politicians, including the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, religious figures from the Church of England, the Lord Mayor of London and a bevy of other top officials from across British society and the 14 other ‘rich’ or nations for which the monarch is the official head of state.
While King Charles III became king immediately upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday after a record 70 years on the throne, the role of the council was to formally recognize the death of one monarch and then to proclaim a new king. one on behalf of the British government. It is part of the British constitutional process.
About 200 of the current Privy Counselors attended the proceedings in London on Saturday, including many former prime ministers and other high-ranking politicians. The Privy Council is the oldest functioning unit of the British government and has been in existence for almost 1000 years. For the first time in the long history of the Accession Council, the two-part ceremony was broadcast live on television on Saturday.
In the first part of the ceremony, British legislator Penny Mordaunt, the Council’s Lord President, announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II and then Council Clerk Richard Tilbrook read a Proclamation of Accession.
The proclamation was then signed by the members of the council.
For the second part of the council, King Charles joined the meeting at St. James’s. The Privy Counselors watched as the new monarch read statements regarding his mother’s death, then swore an oath to serve his kingdom.
Charles promised to follow his mother’s “inspiring example” and “to be very conscious of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me.”
“I know how deeply you and the entire nation, and I think I may say the whole world, sympathize with me in this irreparable loss that we have all suffered,” he said of the Queen’s passing.
The new king then vocally approved a number of orders, including declaring the as-yet unconfirmed date of his mother’s funeral a national holiday. It is expected to take place on or around September 19.
As required by the British Constitution, Charles also declared his loyalty to serve the Church of Scotland, of which he is also the formal leader. He was then the first to sign two copies of that statement, followed by his son and heir, William, Prince of Wales, and other witnesses.
Following the Accession Council proceedings, King Charles’s proclamation as the monarch was read aloud from the Proclamation Gallery, a balcony of St. James’s Palace, by the Garter King of Arms, accompanied by other officials – all dressed in traditional dress.
Trumpets blared as the Garter King of Arms prepared to read the proclamation.
The proclamation, as read to the world by the Garter King of Arms, saw the assembled Privy Counselors and other members of the Accession Council formally declare that they “now hereby, with one voice and assent of tongue and heart, publish and declare that the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, our only lawful and rightful liege, Charles III, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of all His other realms and territories, king, head of the commonwealth, defender of the faith, to whom we recognize all faith and obedience with humble affection, begging God through whom kings and queens reign, to bless his majesty with long and happy years to pass over to rule us.”
Then followed another trumpet salute to a cry of “God save the king!” by those who gathered in the courtyard below the Proclamation Gallery. The assembled crowd then sang the British national anthem,
The ceremony would be followed later in the day by gun salutes and public reruns of the proclamation in other locations in London and then in the capitals of the UK’s other home countries, in Edinburgh, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland and Cardiff, Wales, among other locations in the 14 countries where Charles is the formal head of state.
The remainder of King Charles’ third working day involves a series of formal meetings — or “public,” as they are called by Buckingham Palace — with officials including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister and other cabinet members, and then the leaders of the British opposition political parties.