King Charles III, 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 that dates back hundreds of years. Almost 700 members of the current Accession Council, the oldest functioning part of Britain’s government, were called to convene Saturday, September 10th at St James’s Palace in London, the official residence of the U.K.’s kings and queens for centuries.
The council is comprised of Privy Counsellors, a select group of senior politicians, including new Prime Minister Liz Truss, religious figures from the Church of England, the Lord Mayor of London and a bevy of other top civil servants from across British society and the 14 other “realms,” or nations, for which the monarch serves as the official head of state.
While King Charles III immediately became the king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday after a record 70 years on the throne, it was the council’s role to formally acknowledge the passing of one monarch and to then proclaim the new one on behalf of the British government. It is part of Britain’s constitutional process.
Around 200 of the current Privy Counsellors attended the proceedings in London on Saturday, including many former prime ministers and other senior politicians. The Privy Council is the oldest functioning part of Britain’s government, dating back almost 1,000 years. For the first time in the Accession Council’s long history, the two-part ceremony was aired live on television Saturday.
The new British monarch, earlier known as Prince Charles, addressed the nation for the first time after assuming the mantle in the wake of the demise of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. While paying tribute to his mother, Charles named his eldest son William as Prince of Wales — a title Charles held earlier.
At 73 years, Charles will be the oldest person to be crowned King of the UK, though the date for his coronation hasn’t been fixed yet. He was also the first heir apparent to go to a regular school instead of being home tutored.
Abiding by past traditions, Prime Minister Liz Truss and other senior members of the government have taken oaths of loyalty to King Charles III in the House of Commons.
As required by Britain’s constitution, Charles also declared to serve loyally the Church of Scotland, of which he is also the formal leader. He was then first to sign two copies of that declaration, followed by his son and heir, William, Prince of Wales, and other witnesses.
Following the Accession Council proceedings, the proclamation of King Charles as the monarch was read out loud from the Proclamation Gallery, a balcony of St James’s Palace, by the Garter King of Arms, accompanied by other officials — all wearing traditional clothing. Trumpets blared as the Garter King of Arms prepared to read the proclamation.
In his first address to Britain as monarch, King Charles III expressed “profound sorrow” at the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II vowed to carry on the queen’s “lifelong service” to the nation. Mourners at the service included Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government. Earlier on Friday, King Charles had also bestowed the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales on his eldest son William and his daughter-in-law Kate, who are the next in line for the throne.
Pledging to follow his mother’s “inspiring example,” Charles said he was “deeply aware 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 we have all suffered,” he said of the queen’s passing.