(The Guardian) King Charles III has been proclaimed in a historic ceremony in which he swore with the help of God to dedicate “what remains to me of my life” to “carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me”.
In a ceremony dating back centuries, and to a fanfare of trumpets, the King was proclaimed at a meeting of the accession council in St James’s Palace by privy counsellors.
The principal proclamation was then read aloud by the garter king of arms from the balcony of St James’s Palace to a public crowd gathered below, followed by gun salutes in Hyde Park and the Tower of London.
The crowd sang the national anthem, God Save the King, with its wording reverting to that last sung 70 years ago, and ceremonial troops gave three cheers for the new king.
It is the first accession council since 1952, when Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed, and in a historic first, Saturday’s ceremony was televised.
During it, the King signed a declaration and oath before assembled privy counsellors, including the new Queen Consort and Prince of Wales, using ink from an ink pot gifted to him by Prince William and Prince Harry.
In his declaration the King said it was his “sorrowful duty to announce the death of my beloved mother, the Queen”.
Her reign was “unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion,” he said, as the Queen Consort stood nearby looking emotional.
He added: “I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me. In taking up these responsibilities, I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands and of the Commonwealth realms and territories throughout the world.
“In this purpose, I know that I shall be upheld by the affection and loyalty of the peoples whose sovereign I have been called upon to be, and that in the discharge of these duties I will be guided by the counsel of their elected parliaments.
He added: “And in carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me, and to which I now dedicate what remains to me of my life, I pray for the guidance and help of almighty God.”
Following tradition, the King was missing from the first part of the proceedings, attended only by privy counsellors, and did not witness senior figures from national life including the Queen Consort, the Prince of Wales and the prime minister, Liz Truss, as the proclamation was first read.
During this part, the lord president of the council, Penny Mordaunt, informed the 200 invited privy counsellors of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. A platform party, including the Queen Consort, William, Truss and the archbishops of Canterbury and York, then “shall wait on the King to inform him the council is assembled”, Mordaunt said.
The proclamation was read aloud, then read again outside in public at 11am from the balcony. It was also read aloud at the Royal Exchange in the City of London one hour later at noon.
At The Royal Exchange in the City, the reading aloud of the proclamation was preceded by the pomp and pageantry of a grand ceremonial procession through the economic heart of the nation, reflecting the unique relationship between the monarch and the City of London.
This was the second proclamation. Other proclamations will follow in coming days in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland.
It said: “Whereas it has pleased almighty God to call to his mercy our late sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth II of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George.
“We, therefore, the lords spiritual and temporal of this realm, and members of the House of Commons, together with other members of Her late Majesty’s privy council, and representatives of the realms and territories, aldermen, and citizens of London and others, do now hereby, with one voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and proclaim that the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, is now, by the death of our late sovereign of happy memory, become our only lawful and rightful liege lord, Charles III, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and of his other realms and territories, King, head of the Commonwealth, defender of the faith, to whom we do acknowledge all faith and obedience with humble affection, beseeching God, by whom kings and queens do reign, to bless His Majesty with long and happy years to reign over us.”
“God Save the King.”
There are more than 700 privy counsellors, though only 200 were invited to attend. The proclamation does not make Charles King, which happened automatically on the death of his mother, but it confirms him as King.
The privy council acts in an advisory capacity to the sovereign, and today is a purely formal body mainly comprising seniors parliamentarians past and present, leading members of the Church of England, senior judges, senior civil servants and Commonwealth representatives.
The accession council first met in 1603 after Elizabeth I died without a child. Since then, it meets as soon as possible after the death of a sovereign.
Gun salutes of 62 rounds were fired from saluting stations across the UK and elsewhere to mark the proclamation. There were shouts of “long live the King” by spectators at Tower Bridge.
Salutes were fired from Cardiff Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Hillsborough Castle, Gibraltar, Colchester, York, Larkhill near Stonehenge, naval bases in Devonport and Portsmouth and a number of stations at sea.
Among the first orders approved by the King was that the day of the Queen’s funeral, yet to be announced, will be a bank holiday.