King Charles III was officially announced as Britain’s monarch on Saturday, in a ceremony steeped in ancient tradition and political symbolism – and broadcast live for the first time.
Charles automatically became king when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on Thursday, but the accession ceremony was a key constitutional and ceremonial step in the introduction of the new monarch to the country.
The ceremony in St. James’s Palace, a royal residence in London, was attended by the Accession Council, made up of senior politicians and civil servants who advise the monarch. They met without Charles, officially confirming his title, King Charles III. The king then joined them to make a personal statement, pledging to follow his mother’s “inspiring example” as he took on the duties of monarch.
“I know how deeply you and the whole nation, and I think I may say the whole world, sympathize with me in this irreparable loss we have all suffered,” he said.
It is the first time the ceremony has been held since 1952, when Queen Elizabeth took the throne.
Charles, 73, was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, and his eldest son Prince William. William is now heir to the throne and known by the title Charles long held, Prince of Wales.
After Charles’s personal declaration, David White, the Garter’s King of Arms, read the main proclamation from a balcony at St. James’s Palace, flanked by trumpeters in gold-trimmed robes.
“Three cheers for His Majesty the King,” shouted White, drawing a response of “hip, hip, hurray” from the soldiers below.
The Lord Mayor of London and councilors were in attendance, along with High Commissioners from Commonwealth realms. High Commissioner of Canada Ralph Goodale was also invited to attend.
The new king formally approved a number of orders – including one declaring the day of his mother’s funeral a public holiday. The date of the state funeral has not been announced, but it is expected to be around September 19.
The Queen’s body is expected to be taken from her Balmoral estate in Scotland this weekend, first to Edinburgh and then to London, where she will lie in state before a funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Gun salutes rang out in Hyde Park, at the Tower of London and at military sites around Britain as the new king was announced.
After the palace ceremony, the revelry continued in London’s financial center with trumpets, the national anthem and three more shouts outside the Royal Exchange as Tim Duke, an officer-at-arms, gave a second reading of the proclamation.
King returns to Buckingham Palace
Elsewhere, crowds cheered as King Charles’ motorcade returned to Buckingham Palace.
Further proclamations of accession will be read in public in other major UK cities on Sunday – Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland and Cardiff in Wales.
The death of Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has drawn an outpouring of tributes from home and around the globe.
A ceremony to proclaim the king as Canada’s new sovereign will take place at 10 ET at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Although he is already king, Charles’ coronation will take place at a later date – and the timing of that is not yet clear. There was 16 months between Elizabeth becoming queen in 1952 and her coronation in 1953.