The Daily Telegraph

Charles III proclaimed king today at St James’s Palace Accession Council

Privy Council meeting to ensure succession – the roots of which date back to Anglo Saxon times – will be televised for first time


The meeting is nearly as old as the monarchy itself and is derived from the feudal assembly that ‘elected’ monarchs from eligible royal males

The Duchess of Cornwall, as she was then, was made a Privy Counsellor in 2016, ensuring she could be by her husband’s side

KING CHARLES III will be proclaimed the nation’s new sovereign today at an Accession Council attended by the Queen, the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, senior government ministers and judges.

The historic meeting will take place at 10am in the red-carpeted Throne Room at St James’s Palace and will be the first official event attended by His Majesty.

The meeting of the Privy Council is almost as old as the monarchy itself, and is derived from the Anglo-saxon feudal assembly that “elected” the monarch from eligible royal males.

While its solemn duties have historical­ly been undertaken behind closed doors, this time it will be televised.

At 11am, the Garter King of Arms, David Vines White, will step out onto the balcony overlookin­g Friary Court at St James’s Palace and begin the ritual proclamati­ons of King Charles III. As is convention, a second proclamati­on will be read at the Royal Exchange in the City of London at noon.

Further proclamati­ons will be read in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales at noon on Sunday.

Flags will be flown at full-mast from the time of the principal proclamati­on until 1pm tomorrow, to recognise the accession of the King, after which they will return to half-mast as mourning resumes to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

Penny Mordaunt MP, the newly appointed Acting Lord President of the Council, will preside over the council, which will be divided into two parts.

The first, held in the picture gallery, involves privy counsellor­s able to attend at such short notice, as well as other great officers of state, high commission­ers and certain civil servants.

Traditiona­lly, all members of the Privy Council are summoned. But council numbers have swelled from 175 to more than 700 during the Queen’s reign. So, after a review, a letter was sent to all members earlier this year informing them that attendance had been significan­tly scaled back and that an invitation to attend was far from guaranteed.

Some 200 have been invited, with priority given to Cabinet ministers, former prime ministers, senior judges and the Archbishop­s of Canterbury and York. Others were asked to enter an annual ballot for the remaining seats.

In response to a question from Lord Blunkett in the House of Lords in May, Lord True, who was appointed Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords on Tuesday, stated in a written answer: “There is no constituti­onal understand­ing that all Privy Counsellor­s must be summonsed to an Accession Council.”

He said the updated arrangemen­ts were made in response to three key challenges identified during the review; the increase in Privy Counsellor­s, the capacity challenges presented by the choice of St James’s Palace and the limited provision that could be implemente­d based on the lack of notice involved.

All business is conducted standing up and a dress code from 1952 requires attendees to wear morning dress or lounge suits.

Founded in 1708, the Privy Council formally advises the sovereign but its duties, such as granting royal charters and extending legislatio­n to British overseas territorie­s, are mainly ceremonial.

It is comprised largely of politician­s, but the late Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, and his predecesso­rs are members, as is the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, who will be present to support his father.

The Duchess of Cornwall, as she was then, was made a Privy Counsellor in 2016, ahead of the Queen’s official 90th birthday, ensuring she could be at her husband’s side when he was formally proclaimed monarch.

Ms Mordaunt will open the first part of the council with the announceme­nt of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, before asking its clerk to read out the text of the Accession Proclamati­on.

The platform party, comprising members of the Royal Family, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Great Chamberlai­n and the Earl Marshal, together with the Lord President, will sign the proclamati­on.

Ms Mordaunt will then call for silence and read the remaining items of business, dealing with the disseminat­ion of the proclamati­on and various orders giving directions for firing guns at Hyde Park and the Tower of London.

Part two, held in the red-carpeted Throne Room at St James’s Palace, is considered the first council held by the

All those present will bow to the King before he opens part two with a personal declaratio­n relating to the death of his mother

At the same time, a 41-gun salute – almost seven minutes of artillery fire – will begin in London’s Hyde Park

new monarch and will be attended only by privy counsellor­s.

Today, it will be held immediatel­y after part one but historical­ly, that has not always been the case.

When King George VI died in the early hours of Wednesday Feb 6, 1952, part one, proclaimin­g his daughter, Elizabeth, the new Queen was held at 5pm that day.

Part two was held two days later, at 10am on Friday Feb 8, after the Queen had returned from Kenya.

When King Edward VIII abdicated at 2pm on Friday Dec 11, 1936, parts one and two, proclaimin­g King George VI the new sovereign, were held the following day at 11am.

All present will bow to the King before he opens part two with a personal declaratio­n relating to the death of his mother.

In 1952, when the Queen performed this duty, she addressed the assembled counsellor­s at St James’s Palace with the words: “By the sudden death of my dear father, I am called to assume the duties and responsibi­lity of sovereignt­y.

“At this time of deep sorrow it is a profound consolatio­n to me to be assured of the sympathy which you, and all my peoples, feel toward me.”

Ms Mordaunt will then ask leave to publish the declaratio­n before the King makes a declaratio­n regarding the oath relating to the protection of the Church of Scotland, and then takes the oath.

The oath, necessary due to the country’s division of powers between church and state, has been taken by every sovereign at their accession since George l in 1714.

After reading the oath aloud, the King will sign two identical documents recording it, witnessed by members of the Royal family and privy counsellor­s, including Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Advocate.

One copy is sent to the Court of Session and the other preserved in the Privy Council Register. A copy of the Scottish Oath is later sent to the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Ms Mordaunt will conclude the meeting by reading through any remaining orders of business.

That may include any delayed Cabinet business due to have taken place at the privy council meeting on Wednesday, that was postponed due to the late Queen’s health.

It was hoped that the meeting could take place virtually, but it was rearranged after the Queen was advised by doctors to rest after a full day receiving the outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers at Balmoral.

Privy Counsellor­s will sign the proclamati­on as they leave the palace.

The official record of proceeding­s will be published in a special supplement to the London Gazette and made available on its website.

Trumpeters from the Life Guards will give three blasts from a palace balcony before the Garter King of Arms begins the ritual proclamati­ons.

He will be accompanie­d by the Earl Marshal, other Officers of Arms and the Serjeants at Arms for the first public reading of the Proclamati­on.

At the same time, a 41-gun salute – almost seven minutes of artillery – will be fired in Hyde Park.

As is convention, a second Proclamati­on will be read at the Royal Exchange in the City of London at noon.

At noon on Sunday, further Proclamati­ons will be read in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The Accession Council long predates parliament but the first modern Accession Council meeting dates from the accession of James VI and I in 1603, when the new sovereign’s presence in his Scottish kingdom required immediate action in England.

According to a House of Commons briefing document, the view of the Dominions Office in 1936 was that such a meeting remained necessary because, “partly owing to immemorial custom and partly owing to statute law, certain things had to be done at the Accession of a new King which could only be done by Order in Council”.

The council is usually convened within 24 hours of the death or the abdication of a sovereign.

In this instance, it was slightly delayed due to the relatively late timing of the announceme­nt of Queen Elizabeth’s death and the fact that the King was in Scotland.

Section 10 of the Succession to the Crown Act 1707 states that the Privy Council should proclaim a new monarch “with all convenient speed”, failure to do so being an offence of “high treason”.

Both of those requiremen­ts were later repealed.

A further Privy Council meeting is usually held shortly after the Accession Council.

Until 1952, business at this meeting included an Orders in Council approving alteration­s to the Church of England’s Prayers for the Royal Family and “exhorting” Scottish clergy to pray for the same.

Further Privy Council meetings are convened early in the reign of a new monarch to approve new Royal cyphers, seals and coinage.

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