King Charles III is proclaimed to the nation as new head of state

King Charles III paid tribute to the reign of the late Queen, “unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion”, as he was formally declared the nation’s new monarch.

During a poignant and sombre meeting of the Accession Council, the King spoke movingly about his mother and the grief his family is experiencing, but said the “sympathy expressed by so many to my sister and brothers” had been the “greatest consolation”.

Watched by the Queen, the new Prince of Wales and more than 200 privy counsellors – including six former prime ministers – the King pledged himself to the task now before him and the “heavy responsibilities of Sovereignty”.

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Charles began by discharging the “sorrowful duty” of announcing the death of his “beloved mother”, and told the council: “I know how deeply you, the entire nation – and I think I may say the whole world – sympathise with me in the irreparable loss we have all suffered.

King Charles III, before Privy Council members in the Throne Room during the Accession Council at St James's Palace, London
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“It is the greatest consolation to me to know of the sympathy expressed by so many to my sister and brothers and that such overwhelming affection and support should be extended to our whole family in our loss.”

Charles spoke of the late Queen’s “selfless service”, adding: “My mother’s reign was unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve, we give thanks for this most faithful life.”

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He went on to say: “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.”

The King ended by saying: “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.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, former prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Theresa May and John Major ahead of the Accession Council ceremony at St James's Palace, London, where King Charles III is formally proclaimed monarch.

The historic event was broadcast for the first time, giving the world a first glimpse of an ancient ceremony dating back centuries and one of the first changes to convention instigated by the new King.

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Following convention, Charles did not attend the first part of the ceremony when the clerk of the council Richard Tilbrook read the proclamation to the packed meeting that confirmed the new monarch.

He said: “…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…”

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The meeting was staged in the state rooms of St James’s Palace, and the clerk declared to the room: “God Save the King,” with the privy counsellors repeating the famous phrase.

The new monarch became King the moment his mother died, but an Accession Council must be convened following the death of a Sovereign – usually within 24 hours.

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The King’s declaration in full

It is my most sorrowful duty to announce to you the death of my beloved Mother, The Queen.

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I know how deeply you, the entire Nation – and I think I may say the whole world – sympathise with me in the irreparable loss we have all suffered.

It is the greatest consolation to me to know of the sympathy expressed by so many to my Sister and Brothers and that such overwhelming affection and support should be extended to our whole family in our loss.

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To all of us as a family, as to this kingdom and the wider family of nations of which it is a part, my Mother gave an example of lifelong love and of selfless service.

My Mother’s reign was unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve, we give thanks for this most faithful life.

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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. In all this, I am profoundly encouraged by the constant support of my beloved wife.

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I take this opportunity to confirm my willingness and intention to continue the tradition of surrendering the hereditary revenues, including the Crown Estate, to My Government for the benefit of all, in return for the Sovereign Grant, which supports My official duties as Head of State and Head of Nation.

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.

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