London – Two days after his mother’s death thrust him onto the throne, King Charles III was officially announced as monarch today (Sept. 10), in a pomp-filled ceremony steeped in ancient tradition and political symbolism — and, for the first time, broadcast live.
Charles, who spent seven decades as heir apparent, automatically became king when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on Thursday, but the accession ceremony was a key constitutional and ceremonial step in introducing the new monarch to the country, a relic of a time before mass communications.
Scores of senior politicians past and present, including Prime Minister Liz Truss and five of her predecessors, gathered in the ornate state apartments at St. James’s Palace for the meeting of the Accession Council.
“I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me,” he said.
Speaking of his personal grief, he said: “I know how deeply you and the entire nation, and I think I may say the whole world, sympathise with me in this irreparable loss we have all suffered.”
The new king formally approved a series of orders — including one declaring the day of his mother’s funeral a public holiday. The date of the state funeral has not been announced, but it is expected to be around Sept. 19.
This is the first time the accession ceremony has been held since 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.
Charles was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, and his eldest son Prince William. William is now heir to the throne and is now known by the title that Charles long held, Prince of Wales.
The ceremony ended with a royal official publicly proclaiming King Charles III the monarch from a balcony at the palace. In centuries past, this would have been the first official confirmation the public had of their new sovereign.
Gun salutes rang out in Hyde Park, at the Tower of London and at military sites around the UK as he announced the news, and scarlet-robed soldiers in the palace courtyard doffed their bearskin hats in a royal salute.
The proclamation was read out in the mediaeval City of London and at other locations across the UK.
Two days after the 96-year-old queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland following an unprecedented 70 years on the throne, people still came by the thousands to pay their respects outside Buckingham Palace in London. The scene was repeated at other royal residences across the UK and at British embassies around the world.
Britain is holding a period of mourning for the queen, with days of carefully choreographed ceremonies marking the death of the only monarch most people have ever known.
For many Britons, her passing, though long expected, is a destabilising experience. It comes at a time when many Britons are facing an energy crisis, the soaring cost of living, the uncertainties of the war in Ukraine and the fallout from Brexit.
The country has also just seen a change of leader. Truss was appointed by the queen on Tuesday, just two days before the monarch died. Today, Truss and other senior UK lawmakers lined up in the House of Commons to take an oath of loyalty to the new king.
Normal parliamentary business has been suspended during a period of mourning for the queen. The House of Commons was holding a rare on Saturday session so lawmakers could pay tribute to the late monarch.
The new monarch looked to both the past — noting his mother’s unwavering “dedication and devotion as sovereign” — and the future, seeking to strike a reassuring note of constancy while signalling that his will be a 21st-century monarchy.
He reflected on how the country had changed dramatically during the queen’s reign into a society “of many cultures and many faiths,” and pledged to serve people in Britain and the 14 other countries where he is king “whatever may be your background or beliefs.”
He also tried to overcome a reputation for aloofness in his first hours as monarch, spending time shaking hands with some of the thousands who came to leave flowers and pay tribute to the queen at the gates of Buckingham Palace. He was greeted with shouts of “Well done, Charlie!” and “God save the king!” One woman gave him a kiss on the cheek.
In the next few days the queen’s body will be brought from Balmoral, first to Edinburgh and then to London, where she will lie in state before a funeral at Westminster Abbey.
In his speech, Charles struck a personal note, speaking of his sorrow at the loss of “my darling Mama.”
“Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years,” he said, ending with a quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” — “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”‘
Top: From left, Prince William, Camilla the Queen Consort, and King Charles III during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, London, today, Sept. 10, 2022, where King Charles III is formally proclaimed monarch. Photo: Jonathan Brady/Pool Photo via AP and published by CTV News
First insert: King Charles III signs an oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland during the Accession Council at St James’s Palace, London, today, Sept. 10, 2022, where King Charles III is formally proclaimed monarch. Photo: Victoria Jones/AP and published by NPR
Second insert and Front Page: The proclamation ceremony which took place at the Royal Exchange in the City of London following the earlier proclamation at St James’s Palace. Photo: BBC
Second insert: London’s Memorial Garden in Green Park has transformed into a space for people to leave floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: BBC
Also read: Queen Elizabeth II dies aged 96