PRince Charles, the longest serving heir apparent in British History, was a three-year-old boy who assumed this role when his mother became Queen in 1952. Following Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Thursday, Sep. 8, he automatically succeeded her as King of the United Kingdom. Here’s what to know about Charles’s ascension to the throne:
Is Prince Charles the King when he is born?
Immediately. It is not vacant and it passes when the monarch dies. According to “The…” Guardian, succession plans dictate that Charles will make his first address to the public as head of state on the evening after Elizabeth’s death and will be officially proclaimed king at 11 a.m. the following day at St James’ Palace in London.
Meanwhile, the U.K. parliament will gather within 24 hours of the Queen’s death so that lawmakers can swear allegiance to the new head of state.
Charles’ coronation will likely not happen for at least several months because of the tradition that holding celebrations such as a coronation during a period of mourning is seen as disrespectful. Queen Elizabeth II waited 16 months after her father King George V’s death in February 1952
Does Prince William have a chance of becoming King after the Queen’s death?
Prince William, 40, is second in line to the throne and won’t become King until his father’s death. Charles is 73 and will have been crowned King before his father. According to polls, almost half the country wants Charles to step down and let his older son take his place.
Royal experts think this is unlikely. Charles has lived his whole life in preparation to become King. King Edward II was the only British monarch that has ever freely given up his throne. The Queen’s uncle abdicated in 1936 because he wanted to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, causing a crisis for the monarchy.
What will Prince Charles do right after the Queen’s death?
Charles will start his tour of four U.K. countries immediately following the proclamation ceremony. These include England, Wales and Scotland. He’ll meet leaders of their devolved governments, as well as local people. Many expect the style of Charles’ public engagements will be designed to be more down-to-earth, showing “it is about the people rather than just the leaders being part of this new monarchy,” an adviser to the prince told The GuardianIn 2017.
How will you celebrate the coronation?
According to British tabloids, a secret committee called Golden Orb—in reference to a small golden orb that sits inside the crown—has been planning Charles’ coronation for more than a decade. These plans have been meticulously planned, although they are closely guarded.
There is debate in the U.K. over how grand and how religious Charles’ coronation should be. Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony was steeped in the traditions of Anglican Christianity—including anointment with holy oil and the taking of communion. It was meant to signify the conferment of God’s grace on the monarch, who is also head of the Church of England.
It is important that this religious tradition be preserved. But in 2018, the Constitution Unit, a think tank at University College London, released a report arguing that the coronation ceremony should be secular given the country’s diversity. It pointed out that more than half of the U.K.’s population have no religious affiliation, while two-thirds of those who attend religious ceremonies are not Anglican Christians. “A secular ceremony could celebrate the nation’s diversity in ways that an Anglican service cannot,” it says.
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However religious it is, the ceremony will likely be a far smaller affair than the Queen’s in 1953, which was attended by more than 8,000 guests and featured a procession of 40,000 troops and 24 military bands. Because the British government funds the coronation, it will be under pressure to cut costs in this era of increased scrutiny over royal finances, economic problems facing many Britons, and rising energy prices.
What will Charles look like?
Famously, Queen Elizabeth II broke with royal tradition and kept her regal name the exact same as her birthname. Charles could do the exact same thing as his mother and be crowned King Charles III. But the British press have speculated he may choose another name because of the negative associations of Charles in British history—Charles I was executed for treason, while his son, Charles II, was known for his “cavorting lifestyle.” Prince Charles’ full name is Charles Philip Arthur George, so he could use one of those instead, becoming, for example King George VII.
Camilla, what do you think?
When Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, she became Duchess of Cornwall, choosing not to be Princess of Wales because of the title’s association with the late Princess Diana.
In February 2022, the Queen released a written message expressing her “sincere wish” that Camilla take on the title of Queen Consort when Charles becomes King, meaning the duchess will also be crowned and anointed.
The statement counters previous suggestions by Clarence House, Charles and Camilla’s official residence, that Camilla would become “Princess Consort.” Royal observers say the move reflects the monarchy’s awareness of growing public support for Camilla.
But what about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?
As well as her role as the U.K.’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group including the U.K. and 53 other countries that are mostly former territories of the British Empire and account for some 2.4 billion people. The stated aim of the Commonwealth Secretariat—the central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations—is to help member countries “achieve development, democracy, and peace.”
The title of Head of the Commonwealth is not hereditary—though it has only previously been held by the Queen and her father—and in recent years there had been speculation it could pass to another nation’s head of state and then rotate around the group.
At a summit held in April 2018, Commonwealth leaders confirmed that Charles will indeed assume the role. This is mostly symbolic.
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