Charles III is the new King of England: how is the rise after the death of Queen Elizabeth II

  • Nicholas Witchell
  • BBC Royal Correspondent

Prince Charles

Great Britain has a new king and a new head of state, as do 15 other countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which also have the British monarch as their head of state: Charles Philip Arthur George.

Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign ended at the moment of her death. At that moment, the throne immediately passed to her eldest son, Charles, the Prince of Wales.

This is how the hereditary monarchy works. The line of succession is defined by laws that go back to the 17th and 18th centuries. There is not a second that the throne is vacant.

The new monarch chose to be called Charles 3rd. He could choose any of his four names: Charles Philip Arthur George. Charles’ grandfather’s first name was Albert, but when he became king, he chose to be called George Sixth, one of his middle names.

There was an expectation that the new king might choose to be called George the 7th, in honor of his grandfather, who reigned during World War II.

Upon the Queen’s death, Prince William automatically inherits his father’s title of Duke of Cornwall. His wife, Kate, also becomes Duchess of Cornwall, a title that was previously held by Camilla, wife of Charles and who will now be Queen Consort.

Proclamation

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photo caption,

Funeral of King George 6th, father of Elizabeth 2nd, 10 February 1952

The accession of the new king to the throne will be proclaimed by the Ascension Council at St. James, within about 24 hours of the Queen’s death announcement.

This is the only time the Privy Council is convened. The council is made up of around 500 notables, which include parliamentarians, ministers and civil servants. After the Ascension Council ends, the proclamation will be read from the main terrace of St. James by an official known as the Garter King of Arms.

The reading of the main proclamation will be followed by a 41-shot cannon salute in Hyde Park and 62 shots in the Tower of London.

Proclamations will also be read in the City of London – the country’s financial center – at the gates of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and Hillsborough Castle in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The national anthem “God save the queen” will be immediately changed to salute the new king and thus become “God save the king”.

Coronation

The coronation is the high point of the accession to the throne and is a symbolic ceremony: a religious service, held at Westminster Abbey and presided over by the highest authorities of the Church of England.

Because of the preparation required for such a ceremony, the coronation is unlikely to take place shortly after Charles is proclaimed king. Elizabeth II became queen in February 1952, but was not crowned until June 1953.

Credit, Getty Images

photo caption,

Queen Elizabeth crowning Charles as Prince of Wales, 1969

The coronation ceremony has been held at Westminster Abbey for 900 years – William the Conqueror was the first monarch to be crowned there and Charles will be the 40th. The ceremony will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church. The most anticipated moment is when he will place the crown of St Edward, from 1661, on Charles’ head.

This crown is only worn at the time of coronation and weighs 2.23 kg. Unlike royal weddings, the coronation is a state ceremony: the government bears the costs and decides the guest list.

Mourning commanded by the new king

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photo caption,

The coronation, which will take place at Westminster Abbey, is an essentially symbolic ceremony.

The new king’s first appointment is to lead the national mourning for his mother.

A large and meticulously planned operation has begun. Five days after her death, the coffin containing the Queen’s body is expected to be taken in a traditional artillery carriage from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.

He must spend three days at Westminster Hall so the public can pay their respects. Nine days after her death, Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral is due to take place at Westminster Abbey.

Britain has not seen a state funeral since 1965, when former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who led the country in World War II, died.

The funerals of Princess Diana in 1997, the Queen Mother in 2002 and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 2013 were major ceremonial events and did not have state funeral status. Not even the funeral service for the Queen’s husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 2021 was a state funeral. He was buried according to the protocol corresponding to a royal ceremony.

After the funeral, the coffin with the Queen’s body will be carried in the artillery carriage, driven by naval servicemen to Windsor Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II will be buried, in St. George.

His remains will be next to those of his father and mother.

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