Following the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on 8th September 2022, King Charles III, formerly the Prince of Wales, acceded to the throne. In his first speech as King, he mentioned the responsibilities his mother assumed and stated: “Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept, and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.” But what are various roles and responsibilities he must take on as the new King?
Charles was officially proclaimed King on Saturday 10th September at the First Proclamation at St James’s Palace in London. This was in front of a ceremonial body known as the Accession Council where he was officially given the title of King Charles III. It was divided into two parts, with Charles only present during the second part. The Council consists of member of the Privy Council which include several senior MPs, past and present. Former Prime Ministers such as Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major were all present. The proclamation itself included an order which King Charles approved to declare the Queen’s funeral as a bank holiday.
Lord President of the Council Penny Mordaunt said: “Drafts of two proclamations. One – appointing the day of Her late Majesty’s state funeral as a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Two – appointing the day of Her late Majesty’s state funeral as a bank holiday in Scotland.
“And of two orders in council, directing the Lord Chancellor to affix the great seal to the proclamations.”
Charles answered: “Approved.”
It was signed by members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Earl Marshall – the Duke of Norfolk, the man responsible for organising state ceremonies and was read out at St James’s Palace in addition to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast and other places around the world.
Many may have anticipated the coronation taking place in the few weeks after the Queen’s death, but it is tradition to wait for enough time to mourn before officially crowning a new monarch. The coronation of a new monarch has for 900 years been held in Westminster Abbey, with William the Conqueror being the first ever monarch to be crowned there. With the date for the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla now set for 6th May, Charles will formally take on the roles which have in effect been his since the death of his mother.
Charles’s roles will not differ from those of the previous monarch. He responsibilities will include assenting to Bills passed by Parliament, on the advice of ministers. Additionally, he will provide audiences to ministers, at which he may be “consulted, encouraged or warned” and also even summon new Parliaments on the advice of government.
More importantly, his assent is required to all bills passed by Parliament in order for them to become law. Royal Assent has not been refused since 1707.
Traditionally, there has been a long-established convention that the monarch is asked for consent to debate bills which would affect the prerogative or interests of the Crown.
In the annual State Opening of Parliament ceremony, the King will open Parliament in person, and deliver the King’s Speech. It will also be Charles’s duty to officially appoint any future prime ministers – one of the few remaining personal prerogatives of the sovereign.
One of the last ever duties Queen Elizabeth II conducted, just two days before she died, was when she appointed Liz Truss as PM at Balmoral Castle.
The King’s roles will also include holding a regular audience with the Prime Minister, now Rishi Sunak, usually weekly on a Wednesday, and will meet with the Privy Council once a month. At every meeting, the Council attains the King’s formal approval to orders which have already been discussed and approved by ministers.
As well as being recognised as the King of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Charles has also become the head of the Commonwealth, a group of 56 independent nations and 2.4 billion people. In 14 of these 52 nations, he will be King. These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.