Explainer: The ceremonial rules around King Charles’s accession


Last Updated on 1 week by Mukesh

Following the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday, Charles ascended to the throne forthwith. At a ceremony on Saturday at St. James’s Palace in London, he was formally proclaimed King Charles III. There will be many more legal processes to take before his coronation, which might not happen for months.

A look at the long-standing customs and guidelines that accompany the coronation of a new British monarch:


The Accession Council, made up of a sizable number of top politicians and officials, announces the death of a sovereign in Britain and the appointment of their successor.

Traditionally, the council is called to a formal meeting at St. James’s Palace within 24 hours of a monarch’s passing. However, because the queen’s passing was not made public until Thursday early evening, there was insufficient time to prepare the stage for Friday’s coronation of King Charles III.

Members of the Privy Council who are primarily living politicians, such as all living prime ministers, prominent royals and Church of England officials, as well as other ceremonial leaders like the Lord Mayor of London, make up the Accession Council.

Also read | Explainer: What lies ahead for King Charles III after Queen Elizabeth II’s death

The Privy Council, one of the first institutions of government, advises the monarch. The practice of a monarch meeting privately with a group of advisors dates back to the era of the Norman monarchs and predates the present roles of a government cabinet.

To supervise the proclamation of the new monarch, the entire Privy Council is traditionally summoned to the Accession Council. But since there are now 700 Privy Council members, just 200 were called on Saturday.

The ceremony was broadcast live on television for the first time Saturday.


As per the Act of Union of 1707, the king has his first Privy Council meeting soon after being formally confirmed, makes a personal statement, and then swears to uphold the Church of Scotland.

Following this, gun salutes are fired all around London as the proclamation of the new monarch is read aloud in public by a heraldic official known as the Garter King of Arms from a balcony of St. James’s Palace.

Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast — the capital cities of the other three countries that make up the United Kingdom — are among the venues throughout the U.K. where the declaration is also read aloud.

For roughly 24 hours, Union flags will be flown at full staff before lowering to half-staff as a sign of respect for the monarch.

Senior legislators then take an oath of fealty to the new monarch when Parliament is swiftly called back.

The new monarch must take a second oath affirming his loyalty to the Protestant faith and his commitment to upholding the Protestant succession during the state opening of Parliament. The Accession Declaration Act of 1910 requires that the oath be taken.


The next major occasion—the king’s coronation—will not occur for some months after the initial flurry of rituals. This is to give space for a period of grieving and give the ceremony’s organisers time to plan.

On February 6, 1952, when her father, King George VI, passed away, Queen Elizabeth II became monarch. She was crowned on June 2, 1953, some 16 months later.

Also read | Charles III proclaimed King, trumpets and gun salutes across Britain herald historic moment

It is not yet clear when Charles will be crowned. Westminster Abbey in London, where coronation celebrations have been conducted for the past 900 years, would most likely host it.

(With inputs from agencies)

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