EXPLAINER: The formal rules around Charles’ accession

LONDON (AP) — Charles became king immediately after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday. He was officially proclaimed King Charles III on Saturday at a ceremony in St Petersburg.

LONDON (AP) — Charles became king immediately after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday. He was officially proclaimed King Charles III on Saturday in a ceremony at St. James’s Palace in London, and many more formal steps will follow until his coronation, which may not take place for months.

An overview of the centuries-old traditions and rules surrounding the accession of a new British monarch:


In Great Britain, the death of a sovereign and his successor is officially proclaimed by the Membership Council, made up of a large group of senior politicians and civil servants.

Traditionally, the council is convened within 24 hours of a monarch’s death for a solemn meeting at St. James’s Palace. But the accession ceremony for King Charles III was delayed as the Queen’s death was not announced until early Thursday evening, and there was not enough time to put plans in motion for Friday .

The Membership Council is made up of members of the Privy Council – mainly past and present politicians, including all living Prime Ministers, as well as Church of England leaders and members of the Royal Family – and other ceremonial rulers, such as the Lord Mayor of London.

The Privy Council advises the monarch and is one of the oldest parts of government. It dates back to the days of the Norman kings when the monarch met with a group of advisers in private, before the modern functions of a government cabinet.

Historically, the entire Privy Council is called to the Accession Council to oversee the proclamation of the new monarch. But only 200 were summoned on Saturday as the number of Privy Council members now stands at 700.

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


Shortly after the official confirmation of a new monarch, the sovereign holds his first Privy Council meeting, makes a personal statement, and then signs an oath to maintain the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the Act of Union of 1707.

Afterwards, a heraldic official known as the Garter King of Arms publicly reads the new sovereign’s proclamation from a balcony in St. James’s Palace and shots are fired around London.

The proclamation is also being read aloud in places across the UK, including Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast – the capitals of the other three nations that make up the UK.

The Union Flags will fly at full staff for around 24 hours, before returning to half-staff in mourning for the Queen.

Parliament is then recalled as soon as possible for senior legislators to swear allegiance to the new monarch.

The new monarch must take another oath to declare that he is a faithful Protestant and that he will maintain the Protestant succession later at the official opening of Parliament. The oath is mandated by the Declaration of Membership Act 1910.


After the initial flurry of formalities, it will be months before the next big event – the coronation of the king. This is to allow for a period of mourning and to allow time for officials to organize the ceremony.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953 – around 16 months after her accession on February 6, 1952, when her father, King George VI, died.

The date of Charles’ coronation is not yet known. It will most likely be held at Westminster Abbey in London, where coronation ceremonies have taken place for the past 900 years.

Sylvia Hui, Associated Press

Carol N. Valencia