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Charles becomes King of England as the face of a nation changes | World News

The death of Elizabeth II at age 96 marks the start of a tumultuous 10 days for the UK, in which a queen is buried, a nation mourns its longest reigning monarch and a new king is proclaimed.

Within hours, Prince Charles, the eldest of Elizabeth’s four children, will be formally proclaimed king in a ceremony dating back hundreds of years. At 73, he is the oldest person in British history to ascend the throne.

Flags will fly at half-mast as the country enters a period of national mourning. Normal politics will be suspended as tribute pours in from around the world. In London, the Queen’s casket will be placed in Westminster Hall ahead of her state funeral, which will be marked by a public holiday.

The next two weeks will be a shock to a country accustomed to being ruled by the same monarch for more than 70 years – more than 85% of the population is alive. Charles will now have to direct the almost immutable institution of the monarchy in a country that has changed beyond recognition since his mother’s accession. His kingdom is in danger of falling apart as Scotland pushes for independence and an insecure position in the world after leaving the European Union.

Here’s a guide to the early days of Charles’s reign expected to come true:

How is a new king made?

By law, Charles automatically became king the moment his mother died. Formal recognition will come from the so-called Accession Council, which is usually convened within 24 hours of a sovereign’s death.

The group includes members of the Privy Council – historically the sovereign’s most trusted advisers. If she is in or near London, the Prime Minister will likely attend the meeting at St. James’s Palace as well. Also in attendance are officials from the City of London, the capital’s main financial district, and the Commonwealth, a group of countries made up mostly of former members of the British Empire.

In modern times, the ranks of the Privy Council have come from politicians, aristocrats and clergy, but its origins date back to the seventh-century Anglo-Saxon “Witan” or group of wise men who would advise the monarch and oversee the succession.

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Following the meeting, the new sovereign will be proclaimed by the courtier in charge, known as Garter King of Arms, who will deliver a speech from the Proclamation Gallery overlooking Friary Court in the palace. That address is then repeated in cities and towns across the country in a tradition that predates modern communications. Expect to hear: “The Queen is Dead. Long live the king.”

It is also common for the new sovereign to say something memorable which is later formally published in the government’s official document, the London Gazette.

Will he be called King Charles?

The newly proclaimed monarch will not necessarily be known as King Charles III, as English monarchs have the right to choose their names. History gives some idea why he may be reluctant to use his own name: An earlier King Charles was beheaded in 1649 when England briefly became a republic under Oliver Cromwell.

King Edward VIII chose Edward as his title of government, although he was known to his family and friends as David. In contrast, Charles’ mother stuck to Elizabeth, her first name.

Will his wife be queen?

Charles’ second wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has risen in popularity as Britain moved on following the early death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car accident in 1997.

In 2022, Queen Elizabeth ordered her daughter-in-law to be known as Queen Camilla, a reward for her support of Charles and her role as a working royal.

What Happens During National Mourning?

Flags on public buildings will be flown at half mast – except on the day Charles is proclaimed king – and registers of condolence will be opened at British embassies around the world. But the public is still expected to get to work and shops to remain open.

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The Queen’s body will be laid out in Westminster Hall, the 11th-century heart of the Houses of Parliament. Her coffin will rest on a catafalque and will be guarded by members of the armed forces. Members of the royal family, including Charles’ eldest son and heir Prince William, are expected to watch, just as they did when Queen Elizabeth’s mother was revealed in 2002. Members of the public will also be able to submit past and pay their respects.

Who’s going to the state funeral?

Presidents and royalty from around the world are likely to attend the service at Westminster Abbey, just yards from where the Queen will be in state.

If it happens on a weekday, it will be declared a national holiday and the London Stock Exchange will be closed.

When will Charles be crowned king?

His coronation will not take place immediately. The planning really starts when the period of national mourning is over. Nearly 16 months have passed between his mother’s accession to the throne and her coronation in 1953. But Charles is unlikely to wait that long, given his age and diminished public respect for the institution.

The coronation at Westminster Abbey will be a major ceremonial event attended by leaders from around the world. His mother’s was one of the first national events to be televised, even if only in grainy black and white, drawing audiences of millions.

The service is intended to introduce the sovereign to his people and to underline how the authority of the prince comes from God. During the ceremony, Charles will be anointed with oil and will take the coronation oath – a promise to rule according to the law, exercise justice and uphold Protestantism.

Charles automatically becomes head of the Church of England, but in a break with the past, the service is likely to include other Christian denominations and other faiths.

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In another departure from tradition, don’t expect the service to be packed with members of the House of Lords. At his mother’s coronation, bleachers had to be built to house as many nobles as could fit in the old building—a hangover from when aristocrats paid tribute to the monarch. Almost all hereditary peers were removed from the upper house in 1999.

What powers will Charles have as king?

Charles’s role is heavily limited and largely ceremonial. He will have to remain neutral in politics – a potential challenge for a man who in the past has clearly expressed his views on issues ranging from environmental protection to the shortcomings of modernist architecture.

Although he formally appoints the Prime Minister, he must appoint someone who enjoys the support of the majority of MPs. No monarch has dismissed a government on his own account since William IV sacked Lord Melbourne in 1834. No sovereign has vetoed an act of parliament since Queen Anne in 1708. Charles will attend the state opening of parliament every year, but the so-called King’s speech he delivers is written by his ministers.

That’s not to say Charles will be purely a figurehead. He will exert great influence. He will see all the government papers he wants, hold weekly audiences with his prime ministers, and receive foreign dignitaries. He also becomes head of the armed forces: British soldiers swear allegiance to the monarch, not to the government of the time.

Will he be head of the Commonwealth?

Yes. Charles also becomes head of the Commonwealth, the group of 54 nations that originated in the British Empire. Although the position is not hereditary, in 2018, at the request of the Queen, Commonwealth leaders declared that the position would be passed on to her son.

But some have argued that the Commonwealth would be better served with a rotating head among its members, a reflection of the modern relationship that states have as equals.

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