Today, September 10, 2022, King Charles III’s already undisputed claim to the British throne got the royal rubber stamp when the what is known as the ‘Accession Council’ formally proclaimed the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II the new monarch.
There was pomp and pageantry and tradition — and zero suspense — because Charles became king when the queen died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
But in a historic first, Charles’ accession to the throne was televised and millions around the world watched as the 73-year-old son of queen Elizabeth swore to uphold the constitution, protect the Church of Scotland, and signed the proclamation that made him king. The proclamation was witness by his son, Williams, the Crown Prince of Wales and Camilla, his wife.
And the crowd gathered outside St. James’s Palace in London bore witness to the fanfare and the deafening fusillades that followed the proclamation that Charles III was their new king.
“My mother’s reign was unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion,” Charles, clad in a black suit of mourning, said. “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.”
His wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, and his eldest son William, who now carries his father’s former title, Prince of Wales, stood alongside Charles as he spoke.
When the king finished and the proclamations were signed, Penny Mordaunt, the Lord President of the Council of the United Kingdom and a senior Conservative Party politician, asked the new king whether the declaration that has just been signed could be made public.
“Approved,” Charles replied.
No date has been set for Charles’ coronation, where he will receive the orb and scepter as symbols of his reign, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will place the solid gold crown on his head.
Charles wasn’t there when the 680 or so privy counselors, who are mostly current and past politicians, judges and clergy from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, gathered earlier Saturday in the Picture Gallery to formalize his ascension to the throne.
Joining them was the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss and many of her predecessors, the Lord Mayor of London, and the high commissioners from the dozens Commonwealth countries where Charles will also be king.
It was a modern version of the Anglo-Saxon Witan, a two-part gathering of notables that predates the Middle Ages and that was called after a sovereign died. But this was the first time this ancient ceremony was televised.
Charles arrived for the second part of the ceremony with Camilla, and William, and his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales. There, Charles made his personal declaration and took his oath before the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The new king could have chosen to reign under a different name. But once again, the carefully choreographed royal transition following the death of Elizabeth eliminated any chance Charles might take another royal name like George, which was the name of his maternal grandfather George VI.
When Charles left the room, four trumpeters clad in gold-colored uniforms heralded the arrival of David Vines White, the Garter King of Arms, which is a heraldic position that has been in the royal household since 1484.
White then read a proclamation announcing that Charles is the new king of England from the balcony of St. James’s Palace overlooking the Friary Court.
“Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to his mercy our late sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth the Second of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the crown of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to Prince Charles Philip Arthur George,” the proclamation began.
“God save the king!” he declared.
In London and across the country, flags that had been lowered at public buildings after Elizabeth died were raised to full-staff.
Back at St. James’s Palace, a military band played the first verse of the national anthem, which for the 70 years of Elizabeth’s reign, was known as “God Save the Queen.”
Shortly afterward, a 41-gun salute erupted at London’s Hyde Park which was followed by a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.
“Three cheers for his majesty the king,” White declared while below the members of the Kings Guard removed their iconic bearskin hats. “Hip, hip!”
“Hooray,” they replied three times. (NBC)