Charles III was formally proclaimed King during a historic ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.
During traditional Saturday morning proceedings, which were televised for the first time, flags that had been lowered in honor of the late queen were raised in celebration of the new king.
A number of other proclamations will take place across the UK through Sunday, when flags will return to half-mast during the period of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September.
The new king was proclaimed by an Ascension Council and sworn in during an elaborate ceremony based on tradition—one that hadn’t taken place in over seven decades.
What exactly is the proclamation?
Charles was already king—under the terms of the Settlement Act of 1701, he automatically became king upon his mother’s death. Thus, the purpose of the Ascension Council was ceremonial, to officially announce the name of the new monarch.
Typically, this happens within 24 hours of the sovereign’s death. But on this occasion a little more time passed between the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ceremony at Saint James Palace in central London, very close to Buckingham Palace.
In another break with tradition, King Charles III decided that for the first time the Ascension Council would be televised.
More than 200 members of the Privy Council — a body of formal advisers to the monarch, mostly politicians past and present — met at Saint James’ Palace, along with members of the clergy.
The advice dates back to the time of the Norman kings. Of the 700 members, only 200 were summoned.
Former UK Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Theresa May – who have met with the Queen on many occasions over many years – were present, as was the Mayor of the United Kingdom. City of London, senior judges and other officials.
Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles’ wife of 17 years (who now holds the title of Queen Consort) and the King’s son William, the new Prince of Wales, were also present.
First part: the king is named
The Ascension Council was split into two parts, and Charles was only present in the second.
At first, the Lord President — Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt, appointed by Prime Minister Liz Truss on 6 September — announced the monarch’s death.
She then asked the council secretary to read the Ascension Proclamation, which included the title chosen by Charles as king—Charles 3rd.
The 200 or so people gathered in the room said “God save the king” before the documents were signed.
Prince William, Prime Minister Liz Truss and Archbishop Justin Welby were watching.
The proclamation was then signed by members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and the Earl Marshall — the Duke of Norfolk — who is responsible for organizing state ceremonies.
After signing, Mordaunt called for silence and read aloud the outstanding items, which included directing artillery cannons to be fired at Hyde Park in central London and the Tower of London.
The proclamation was also read in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and elsewhere in the country.
Part Two: The King Speaks
The second part of the Ascension Council was when the Privy Council greeted the new king in the Throne Room of Saint James’ Palace.
It was the first meeting of the Privy Council held by the new monarch.
Councilors lined up to receive him, all standing, since tradition dictates that no one sits on the Privy Council.
In an emotional first address to the council, the new king spoke of “his dear mother’s life of service” and promised to follow in her footsteps.
“The whole world sympathizes with me for the irreparable loss we all suffer.”
“My mother’s reign was unparalleled in its duration, dedication and devotion. Even when we suffer, we give thanks for this faithful life.”
The king went on to talk about his new responsibilities.
“I am keenly aware of this profound heritage and the grave duties and responsibilities that are now passed to me.”
He also paid tribute to Camilla, Queen Consort. “I am deeply encouraged by my beloved wife’s constant support,” he said.
What is the oath that King Charles took?
Under the terms of the Act of Union, new monarchs are also required to take an oath to maintain and preserve the Church of Scotland.
This is because in Scotland there is a division of powers between church and state.
Charles signed two copies of the oath in front of the Privy Council. Witnesses also signed these oaths, including Prince William — the new Prince of Wales — followed by Camilla, the queen consort.
As the last witnesses signed the statement, a band began to play.
Charles could have objected to any of the oaths he was asked to take, although the last time a new monarch did so was in 1910, when King George Fifth rejected the anti-Catholic text of the oath of declaration.
What happened on the porch?
The acts then began to take place outside the palace.
Members of the public were allowed to exit The Mall Avenue to Friary Court and witness the proclamation of King Charles III.
“They came carrying their pets, holding flowers, a child in Spider-Man pajamas, the elderly in motor vehicles. (Wearing) from suits to cycling gear,” reported the BBC’s James Bryant, present at the scene.
The Garter King of Arms went to the balcony above Friary Court to read the proclamation and the State Trumpeters sounded the royal salute.
The national anthem was then played with the words “God Save the King” for the first time in over seven decades.
Then came the collective celebration: the Garter King of Arms declared, “Three cheers to His Majesty the King. Hip-hip…”, with the King’s Guard replying “Hooray” three times, as they lifted their fur caps. of bear above the head.
The State Trumpeters and the heralds then formed a procession of vehicles. They drove to the Royal Exchange in the City of London, where another proclamation was read.
The ceremony ended when the secretary of the Privy Council proclaimed Charles “King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”, before declaring “God save the King”.
Penny Mordaunt closed the ceremony by reading the drafts of the proclamation to be authorized, with King Charles III approving them one by one.
One was that the day of the queen’s funeral was a (public) bank holiday.
But now it may be some time before Charles’ coronation takes place. About 16 months passed between the death of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, in February 1952, and her coronation in June 1953.