Charles III is King of Great Britain. Here’s what will happen now
With the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the throne has passed to her eldest son, Prince Charles, who will now be known as King Charles III. Charles held his first in-person audience as King with Prime Minister Liz Truss on Friday afternoon at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Sovereign. He was scheduled to address the British people later in the evening.
When will Charles be formally proclaimed King?
According to the rules of the British monarchy, “a new Sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies and is proclaimed as soon as possible at an Accession Council in St James’s Palace” in London. Buckingham Palace said on Friday that the proclamation of King Charles will take place at a historic Accession Council in London on Saturday morning.
The Accession Council, which is presided over by the Lord President of the Council, is a body made of members of the Privy Council, which includes senior members of the government and Parliament, archbishops, senior civil servants, etc. Not all members of the Privy Council will be at the Accession — only about 200 will attend, British media reported.
MP Penny Mordaunt, Lord President of the Privy Council, will announce the Queen’s death. There will be prayers and pledges for the new King in the proclamation, which will be signed by PM Truss, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Lord Chancellor, Brandon Lewis.
A public declaration of Charles III as the new King will be made from a balcony above Friary Court in St James’s Palace, by an official known as the Garter King of Arms.
The formal coronation of the King will, however, happen only later — that ceremony involves specific customs, and time is needed for preparation as well for a period of mourning. Elizabeth herself had been coronated on June 2, 1953, 16 months after her accession on February 6, 1952, after her father, King George VI, passed away.
According to the royals’ website, the coronation ceremony “has remained essentially the same over a thousand years”, and it will take place at Westminster Abbey in London. At the coronation, the sovereign agrees to promises in the oath read by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he is then “anointed, blessed and consecrated” by the Archbishop, while he is seated in King Edward’s chair that has been used by every sovereign since 1626. The Archbishop places St Edward’s Crown, made of gold and studded with jewels, on the sovereign’s head.
When and where will the Queen’s burial take place?
British media reported that the Queen’s coffin will leave Balmoral Castle, the royal private residence in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, for the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, which is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Afterward, the Queen will rest for 24 hours at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the public can view her coffin.
The coffin will then be taken to London, where it will be first kept at Buckingham Palace. It will then be moved to Westminster Hall to allow the public to pay their respects for five days. The state funeral will happen at Westminster Abbey on a date that Buckingham Palace will announce.
After the ceremony and a procession through Windsor in Berkshire county in England, service will be held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, during which the coffin will be lowered into the royal vault.
As Charles becomes King, will his wife, Camilla be Queen?
No. King Charles’s wife, Camilla, will be known as the Queen Consort. A Queen Consort is a woman who is married to the reigning monarch — the title of “Queen” is reserved only for female rulers who become the monarch through a line of succession.
The Queen Consort is usually “crowned with the King, in a similar but simpler ceremony”, according to the royal family’s website. Consorts do not hold any formal positions in the government, with their role being “primarily to provide companionship and moral and practical support to the Monarch”.
Camilla, who married Charles in 2005, was blamed by a large section of the British public and press for destroying his first marriage to the much loved Princess Diana. She was the first to assume the title of Princess Consort in the United Kingdom; however, according to a 2017 report in The Guardian, “the formulation has no historical or legal meaning” as British common law dictates that wives of kings are known as Queen Consorts.
Queen Elizabeth said this February that it was her “sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service”.
Who is next in line to the British throne after Charles?
After the 73-year-old King Charles III, descent and parliamentary statutes will regulate succession to the throne. This is currently the line of British monarchs after him:
- His eldest son, Prince William (40) is next in line for the throne. He is married to Catherine, the Duchess of Cornwall, and their three children will follow after him.
- As the eldest child of Prince William, Prince George (9), is second in the line of succession. Next is Princess Charlotte (7); however, if George has children, they will become the monarch in the event of his death. Prince Louis (4), as the youngest child of William, is currently fourth in line.
- Prince Harry (37), the younger son of King Charles is fifth in the line of succession. His two children with Meghan Markle occupy the sixth and seventh positions.
What will change in Britain with the Queen’s passing?
The royal cypher, ‘EIIR’, is emblazoned on flags that fly on innumerable official buildings and installations, including police stations across the UK. The British military flies the “Queen’s Colours” of blue, red, and gold, and many flags carry the ‘EIIR’ in gold. These will change.
Royal Mail post boxes have the cypher of Queen Elizabeth, ‘ER’, which, however, might stay. Stamps used by the post offices will change, and will be replaced by the face of the new monarch.
The Guardian said it was possible that the Royal Standard, which is the quartered flag representing two quarters for England and a quarter each for Scotland and Ireland, could change if the new monarch decides to include a representation for Wales too.
The UK National Anthem has the words “God save our gracious Queen”, which will change to “God save our gracious King”, switching back to the traditional phrase which has been in use from at least the early 17th century.
British currency notes have the face of the Queen on them, and some 4.5 billion pound notes are currently in circulation. They will have to be replaced, and the process could take several years. The face of Queen Elizabeth has appeared on notes since 1960, and she also features in some other Commonwealth currencies.
All British MPs pledge allegiance to the Crown. They take the oath: “I…swear by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” That will now change. MPs in the Houses of Commons and Lords will swear an oath to the King.
Also, those who become citizens of the UK now swear to “bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, her heirs and successors”. That too is likely to change, as will the oath taken in the name of the Queen by members of the armed forces and some other uniformed forces.
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