King Charles III proclaimed king by historic council in live ceremony

LONDON — The Garter King of Arms, an official member of the royal household since 1415, took to the balcony of St. James’s Palace in central London on Saturday to proclaim to all of Britain that there was a new monarch: King Charles III.

Holding a scepter and wearing an ostrich-feathered velvet hat, her reading of a great written proclamation was a historic ritual that has been going on for hundreds of years. The trumpets – the tweets of old – sounded. Cries of ‘God save the King’ rang out, in a scene that will be repeated across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the next day with more gun salutes and military pomp.

In a twist of history and modernity, the meeting of the historic Membership Council – made up of Church of England members, lawmakers and senior state officials – was broadcast live for the first time. It allowed millions of Britons to watch the ceremony which usually takes place behind closed doors and was seen as a potential sign of how the new king might intend to rule.

“The King has personally requested that television cameras be allowed in the Membership Council. King Charles III begins his reign as he intends to continue. A transparent new monarchy for a modern age,” royal commentator Charlie Proctor tweeted.

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The convocation of the council, traditionally supposed to take place as soon as possible after the death of a sovereign, is followed by a meeting in Parliament.

Charles, dressed in black, was sworn in before the council standing alongside Queen Consort Camilla and new Prince and Princess of Wales William and Catherine. He promised to support the church and facilitate the continuity of government – a pledge made by every sovereign on their accession since George I in 1714.

He spoke of the “irreparable loss” the nation suffered with the death of Queen Elizabeth II and hailed her reign as “unparalleled in its duration, devotion and devotion”.

“I am deeply aware of this great heritage and the heavy duties and responsibilities of Sovereignty which have now been handed down to me,” he told the council. “I will strive to follow the inspiring example given to me.”

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Outside the palace, crowds from across the UK gathered and fell into hushed silence as they awaited the proclamation – albeit with modern mobile phones in hand, ready to post scenes from the online event.

Craning their necks, some scrambled to get a good view. Others, somewhat ironically, have turned to messaging groups and WhatsApp websites for better views and detailed information.

“It’s like we’re so close and yet so far,” Adam Stanton, 32, said as he tried to refresh his social media feeds for the news. “What are they doing in there?” Where are the trumpets?

After the declaration, chants of salute to Charles rang out – at first timidly, then more full-throated – alongside gun salutes and trumpets. An exasperated mother tried to keep her children engaged in the momentous event: “Guys, I know it’s really annoying for you but it’s actually extremely important,” she was heard saying.

Online, the tone was less enthusiastic. “Nobody cares, it’s not the middle ages anymore,” tweeted one watcher. “Enough now,” said another.

Charles’ mother made her own story when encouraged by her husband, Prince Philip, she gave permission for his coronation to be televised for the first time in 1953.

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Amanda Kingston traveled from the Welsh town of Tenby, waking up at 3.15am to travel to London with her family for the event. At a time of national flux, she said Charles had proven reassuring.

“We said to ourselves this morning that we felt much happier,” she told the Washington Post outside St. James’s Palace. “He looked like a king,” she said of the new monarch. Kingston and her family were devastated by the news of the Queen’s death on Thursday and gathered to toast the house in her honor.

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Inside the palace, former British prime ministers mingled, including Tony Blair, David Cameron and newly ousted Boris Johnson, surrounded by senior religious and state officials who make up the council.

Opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer called it a “true moment in history”. Speaking to Britain’s Sky News after his participation, he said: ‘On occasions like this we come together. He and other senior lawmakers will take their own oaths again later on Saturday to new King Charles III and meet him at Buckingham Palace in a smaller private audience.

The flags will briefly fly at full staff across the country for the next 24 hours following the joining ceremony, before returning to half-staff as the UK continues its 10-day period of national mourning.

Elizabeth’s state funeral is scheduled to take place on Monday, September 19 with world leaders and officials including President Biden in attendance.

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Elizabeth, who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday, will rest in state in Edinburgh before being transferred to Westminster Abbey in London. She will then be buried next to her husband and father at Windsor Castle.

As the crowds dwindled and the ceremony faded outside St. James’s, some people lingered to enjoy the rare historic moment, others planned to travel to nearby Buckingham Palace to lay flowers and remember the queen.

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