Royal transition from Elizabeth II – Charles III – what is the law?

 

  • The King Never Dies
  • Accession Council officially announces new Monarch
  • Oath to maintain and preserve the Church of Scotland
  • Televised for the first time

Common law rule – Rex nunquam moritur meaning “The King never dies”.

Accordingly, Charles automatically became King upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Act of Settlement 1701 ensures a Protestant succession to the English throne reinforces the Bill of Rights agreed by William and Mary in 1689.

The Accession Council officially announces the name of the new monarch – usually within 24 hours of the death of the sovereign.

As part of operation London Bridge, the Accession Council met in St James’ Palace at 10am on 10th September to proclaim Charles the new sovereign.

For the first time in history the Accession Council was televised.

The Accession Council is formed of Privy Counsellors, Great Officers of State, the Lord Mayor and High Sheriffs of the City of London, Realm High Commissioners, some senior civil servants and certain others.

The Accession Council is presided over by the Lord President.

Penny Mordaunt was appointed by Liz Truss on 6th September to be the Lord President.

The Accession Council is divided into two parts.

In the first part, during which the Sovereign is not present, The Lord President announced Queen Elizabeth’s death.

The Lord President then asked the clerk of the council, retired civil servant Richard Tilbrook, to read out the Accession Proclamation confirming the name of the new monarch.

The Accession Proclamation was then signed by the members of the Royal Family, the prime minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and the Earl Marshall.

The Earl Marshall is a key behind-the-scenes figure. It is an hereditary role. Responsibilities include arranging the state opening of parliament, organising the state funerals of sovereigns and the accession and coronations of new monarchs.

Traditionally, the position is held by the highest ranking Duke in England, which is the Duke of Norfolk. The current Earl Marshal is the 18th Duke of Norfolk, Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 65, who inherited the title when his father died in 2002.

The Lord President then read out the outstanding items of business including disseminating the Proclamation and directing artillery guns to be fired at London’s Hyde Park and the Tower of London.

The second part of the Accession Council was the first meeting of the Privy Council held by the new monarch.

King Charles III made the following declaration:

My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen.

It is my most sorrowful duty to announce to you the death of my beloved Mother, The Queen. I know how deeply you, the entire Nation - and I think I may say the whole world - sympathise with me in the irreparable loss we have all suffered. It is the greatest consolation to me to know of the sympathy expressed by so many to my Sister and Brothers and that such overwhelming affection and support should be extended to our whole family in our loss. To all of us as a family, as to this kingdom and the wider family of nations of which it is a part, my Mother gave an example of lifelong love and of selfless service.

My Mother’s reign was unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve, we give thanks for this most faithful life.

I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of Sovereignty which have now passed to me. In taking up these responsibilities, I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these Islands and of the Commonwealth Realms and Territories throughout the world.

In this purpose, I know that I shall be upheld by the affection and loyalty of the peoples whose Sovereign I have been called upon to be, and that in the discharge of these duties I will be guided by the counsel of their elected parliaments. In all this, I am profoundly encouraged by the constant support of my beloved wife.

I take this opportunity to confirm my willingness and intention to continue the tradition of surrendering the hereditary revenues, including the Crown Estate, to My Government for the benefit of all, in return for the Sovereign Grant, which supports My official duties as Head of State and Head of Nation.

And in carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me, and to which I now dedicate what remains to me of my life, I pray for the guidance and help of Almighty God.

Under the terms of the Act of Union, new monarchs are also required to make an oath to maintain and preserve the Church of Scotland.

The Garter King of Arms, England’s senior herald, then read the Proclamation from a balcony above the Friary Court at St James’s Palace. The Garter King of Arms was joined by the Earl Marshall and other officials wearing traditional heraldic garments.

The proclamation was also read with similar ceremony in various locations around the country including in Edinburgh by Lord Lyon King of Arms (who parallels The Earl Marshall in England), in Belfast and Cardiff and in the City of London.

The date for King Charles III’s coronation has yet to be announced. Queen Elizabeth became Queen on the death of her father, King George VI, on 6th February 1952. Her coronation was 16 months later on 2nd June 1953.

Flags – why is the royal standard never flown at half-mast?

The Royal Standard is only flown when the Sovereign is in residence.

The Royal Standard must always be flown at full mast because The ‘King never dies’Rex nunquam moritur.

The union flag was first flown over Buckingham Palace at half-mast in 1997 after the death of Diana as that was the only flag that could be flown at half-mast.

The flags in Whitehall, lowered to half-mast upon Queen Elizabeth’s death were raised again at 11am on 10th September to confirm the accession of King Charles III.

 

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