The Accession of Charles III (Sept. 8-10)

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The day isn’t over yet, but as we move into what are essentially logistics, I want to leave the previous post as is – a short capsule of a few tension-laden hours. King Charles is expected to make a statement shortly, as is Prime Minister Truss. At 6:30 PM GMT, as the official statement announcing the Queen Elizabeth’s death was released, the Union flags were lowered to half-mast.

Within minutes of the announcement, William and Kate’s social media accounts were updated to read “The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge.” The Clarence House accounts, belonging to Charles & Camilla, still read – as of me writing this – “The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.” The official accounts for The Royal Family are now theirs. It’s unclear whether they will archive, etc. Frankly, I don’t really care about that right now. Even more, I would have preferred that the Kensington Palace team waited a beat longer. The security of the accession doesn’t rest on social media. Perhaps I will feel differently tomorrow.

As background, Charles’s elevation to king is automatic. As such, so too is William’s elevation to Duke of Cornwall, as the monarch’s eldest son. In order for William to become Prince of Wales, he will have to be formally invested as such. That *usually* comes after the coronation, but it bears repeating that after a 70-year reign, there is no such thing as usual anymore. Or, more accurately, “usual” is a less stringent guidepost than it would once have been.

Needless to say, amidst the sadness, this is all going to be fascinating to watch.

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7:09 PM GMT: The King has released the following statement:

“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”

7:20 PM GMT: Prime Minister Truss delivered remarks acknowledging the passing of Queen Elizabeth. She ended with, “God save the King.”

7:27 PM GMT: The Palace has confirmed that Charles will in fact be known as Charles III. This isn’t a surprise, though there was speculation years ago that he would take the name George VII as king.

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7:50 PM GMT: Based on the statement released by Buckingham Palace, it sounds like everyone who traveled to Scotland today – and those that were already there – will spend the night at Balmoral, while Kate and Meghan remain in England. Everyone is expected to be in London tomorrow. Guidance on the timing of the funeral and other related events are obviously TBD. The late Queen’s body is unlikely to be transferred to London until the weekend, however that’s assuming there’s no deviation from the plan that we know.

8:59 PM GMT: Harry has arrived at Balmoral, joining the rest of the BRF. Now that we know the Queen passed away in “the afternoon,” it sounds like, of her children, only Charles and Anne were with her. Given the timing of when the plane carrying Andrew, Edward, and William arrived, it looks like they missed her, and the announcement was held until ducks were in a row – including the senior members of the family assembling.

9:38 PM GMT: I’m going to call time on today, but I will return to this post in the morning to provide further updates. And I may put info up on Instagram over night if anything major breaks.

Two quick notes: 1) I removed my blurb on titles/styles because it felt a little scrambled (probably because I was!), so I will pull together something clearer tomorrow and address how this impacts the Sussex children and 2) If there’s no formal announcement, I will lay out the London Bridge plan, which does provide some guidance on what the next several days will look.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. Charles will meet with members of his government, including the PM, and formally address the nation. And on Saturday, the Accession Council, which will officially proclaim Charles king, will be held.

The key theme to an accession is continuity – as such, there is not meant to be a lull in the affairs of state. The throne is never empty.

September 9

Ok, let’s get back to it. Last night, Charles, Camilla, William, Andrew, Edward, Sophie, and Harry spent the night at Balmoral. This morning, William returned to Kate and the kids at Adelaide Cottage. I wouldn’t be surprised if William and Kate end up in London over the weekend, or even later today – it depends on the extent to which Charles wants William by his side for planned events. We’ll see.

We know that Harry also departed Balmoral this morning, though it’s unclear where he went next. Presumably to Meghan at Frogmore Cottage, but I haven’t seen confirmation. It’s expected that he will remain in the UK until his grandmother’s funeral (more on that in a bit). Whether or not Meghan remains with him is up in the air.

Charles and Camilla traveled to London this morning, arriving at Buckingham Palace around 2 PM GMT. The couple greeted crowds who gathered to welcome them back and, notably, their reception was warm. I’m not surprised by that, but it does bear underscoring given that Charles is still considered controversial by many and there’s been decades of speculation that his accession would be borderline traumatic for the public. Obviously it’s still early days, but the tone appears to be one of sympathy for his loss and genuine well wishes thus far.

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Once Charles and Camilla entered Buckingham Palace the royal standard flew over it, indicating that the monarch was in residence.

Back in Scotland, the Queen’s body has reportedly been moved to the ballroom. Her granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Tindall, arrived this morning to pay their respects. I didn’t see news about their respective husbands, nor did I see news of Peter Phillips (Zara’s brother).

As 12:00 PM GMT, bells tolled at Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Windsor Castle.

At 1:00 PM GMT, gun salutes were fired in Hyde Park – one for every year of the Queen’s life. So, 96.

This evening, at 6:00 PM GMT, an official prayer service will be held at St Paul’s – members of government are expected to attend, not family (as I understand it). Members of the public can attend on a first come, first serve basis.

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Charles will also address the nation via pre-recorded remarks. This will be the moment when he both acknowledges his mother’s passing and pledges his own duty as the new sovereign. Today also saw him meet with Prime Minister Truss and the Earl Marshal – The Duke of Norfolk – to confirm funeral plans.

As for the funeral and period of mourning logistics – I’m going to drop that in a separate post, while continuing to update here as events unfold for the rest of today, so keep an eye out for that.

Now, titles. Charles is now King Charles III. His wife, Camilla, is now Queen Camilla. The media – and the royal family website – is referring to her as Queen Consort right now. And yes, that’s true, but once the funeral passes, it will be more appropriate to refer to her simply as the Queen or Queen Camilla, following the tradition of previous queen consorts. Right now, I think everyone is being sensitive and also avoiding confusion.

William automatically became Duke of Cornwall once his father became king – a title that belongs to the monarch’s eldest son. He still retains his title Duke of Cambridge, and so, per the Kensington Palace social media accounts, he and Kate are now the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge, with Cornwall being the more senior title. In due course – though we don’t know exactly when – William and Kate will become Prince and Princess of Wales. As for how they are referred to in the media and casually, that remains a bit TBD since “Cornwall and Cambridge” is a mouthful and temporary.

Harry and Meghan saw no changes to their title, however technically their children – Archie and Lili – became prince and princess yesterday, as grandchildren of the monarch through a male line (Harry). Given what Meghan said during the Oprah interview, it sounds like there was discussion of new Letters Patent being issued by Charles as king that would deprive them of those titles. This has nothing to do with personal animosity or racism, it has to do with Charles wanting to keep a streamlined monarchy and not have another generation of titled royals who are either 1) not working on behalf of the sovereign or 2) aren’t a great return on investment due to lack of public interest. It remains to be seen how this will be handled, particularly since Harry and Meghan aren’t allowed to use their HRHs for their professional promotion.

Otherwise everything remains the same, with the possible exception of Edward and Sophie. We still don’t know if Charles intends to elevate his youngest brother to Duke of Edinburgh per their father’s wishes. I wrote about this earlier in the year, so you can check out that post here.

For now, I’m going to get up a schedule of the coming days, but as news unfolds I’ll update here.

5:18 PM GMT: Kate was photographed driving in Windsor a couple hours ago, presumably picking George, Charlotte, and Louis up from school. What a weird way to kick off a new school year, and at a new school. And what an introduction to having royal students for Lambrook. I referenced there was some pushback to Kate having not gone to Scotland yesterday, but I do think that decision made a lot of sense. This is a lot of change for the kids and George and Charlotte are old enough to appreciate some of the strangeness.

6:00 PM GMT: King Charles is addressing the nation. His remarks were recorded earlier today at Buckingham Palace.

6:10 PM GMT: Wow, what a speech. Short and sweet, it hit all the right notes. Charles paid tribute to his mother, describing her decades of duty and service – as expected. He pledged to dedicate his remaining years to continuing that service. All as expected.

Of Camilla, he confirmed that she will serve alongside him as Queen Consort – not news, but still a big moment given that up until fairly recently there was the technical possibility she would take the title Princess Consort instead.

Of William, he confirmed that he would take on the duties of running the duchy of Cornwall and acknowledged him as heir. Finally, he named him and “Catherine” (aka Kate) Prince and Princess of Wales. That’s a big moment.

Less expected, but appreciated, he acknowledged Harry and Meghan, expressing his love for them and well wishes as they continued to build their lives abroad. This struck two notes – avoiding the optics of ignoring their presence in the private family and confirming that there won’t be any change to their status as non-working royals.

6:25 PM GMT: The Kensington Palace social media accounts have been updated with a new handle that reflects they are the Prince and Princess of Wales. The description, at this time, still reads Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge. That may change soon, or they may not update until they are formally invested.

7:46 PM GMT: The transition of reigns will have a few daily impacts unrelated to the Royal Family proper. For one, as we just saw during the St Paul’s service, there’s a new national anthem – God Save the King. After 70 years of hearing it as God Save the Queen, it’s going to take a beat for everyone to get used to that, no doubt. And then there’s the money – new money featuring Charles’s face will go into circulation. Money featuring Elizabeth will still be usable – the goal is to slowly swap out over several years. I read online somewhere yesterday that someone saw money featuring George VI’s face well into the 1970s. Wild.

8:00 PM GMT: BBC is airing a special program on the Queen right now, featuring interviews with members of the Royal Family. I’m not in a position to watch it straight away, so I’m not sure when these interviews were held. If someone watches, chime in and let me know if these talks went down in the last 24 hours.

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8:16 PM GMT: I swept past this in an earlier update, but now that I can catch my breath a bit, I think it’s worth zooming back in on Charles’s first meeting with Prime Minister Truss. This a huge moment – there was so much attention paid to the Queen’s weekly meetings with her PMs and her relationships with several of them, from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair, etc. It’s slightly surreal to now see Charles taking on one of the most politically potent of the sovereign’s duties, but then the last 36 hours have all pretty much been surreal.

9:07 PM GMT: In terms of timing for the events of tomorrow, at 10:00 AM GMT, Charles will officially be proclaimed king during a meeting of the Accession Council at St James’s Palace. We now know that William will attend that with him.

At 11:00 AM GMT, following the meeting, the Principal Proclamation announcing Charles as sovereign will be read from the balcony.

I will likely write up a summary after the events’ close – depending on how everything unfolds, I’ll either update here or close the live updates and return to a normal post structure. TBD.

11:06 PM GMT: It’s been confirmed that earlier today Harry did in fact go to Windsor when he left Balmoral. I’ve seen rumors that he and Meghan have since boarded a flight for California, but not from sources I’d trust. If they do return to California, I believe they will return for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

It’s also been reported that Beatrice, Eugenie, and Zara are spending the night tonight at Balmoral. As far as we know, Anne and Andrew are still there too.

11:15 PM GMT: Slightly outdated news by now, but the descriptions on the KP social media accounts now mirrors the handle – Prince and Princess of Wales. A royal “source” has briefed media that Kate “appreciates the history associated with the role, but will understandably want to look to the future as she creates her own path.”

The “history” is an allusion to Diana, a topic so fresh in the public’s mind courtesy of the 25th anniversary of her death last week. But honestly, last week feels like a year ago. One thing I haven’t seen a lot of in all the noise in the last 48 hours is leveraging Diana’s memory to undermine Charles and Camilla. And thank God.

We don’t know when a formal investiture of the title will take place. The last ceremony was in 1969 when Charles was made PoW. Before that, it was the future Edward VIII in 1911.

11:20 PM GMT: BBC is confirming that *all* of Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren, with the exception of William and Harry, are now at Balmoral. Lady Louise, Edward and Sophie’s daughter, was photographed being driven to Balmoral earlier this evening. We can assume that her brother, James, made the trip at some earlier point, and that Peter Phillips is there, too.

Given that the transfer of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin from Balmoral to Edinburgh is due to take place on Sunday, it’s a safe bet the family will remain there until then and follow the funeral procession.

With that, I’m signing off for now. I’ll jump back on tomorrow to cover the Accession Council meeting.

September 10

This morning, for the first time in history, a meeting of the Accession Council was televised. After its close, The King was officially proclaimed Charles III in the courtyard of St James’s Palace where the instrument of accession was read out. You can watch the video above to see the entire ceremony.

Charles was accompanied by Camilla and William. My main takeaway from watching it was that Charles and Camilla seemed stressed. Don’t get me wrong, everyone played their part beautifully, but Camilla looked timid, particularly at the start, and Charles was clearly under pressure to not miss a beat as the meeting unfolded. There was a bit of awkwardness during the signing ceremony as everyone had to navigate around errant pens and pots of ink – frankly that should have been managed better by staff. I’ve seen Charles get some flak for waving for staff to remove items, but honestly, in that moment, yeah – someone needs to handle it because the man is literally making history.

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William was remarkably smooth and unflappable, if somber. And that bears repeating – this is a family very much in mourning. For the next few weeks, even as facets of the new reign launch, there is a funeral procession unfolding and all of their lives are changing hugely.

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Back at Balmoral, the rest of the Royal Family attended a prayer service and took a moment to view the flowers and messages left by the public at the castle gates. It goes without saying, but the Royal Family isn’t a demonstrative family in public.

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The extent to which we’ve seen emotion over the last few days is telling – it was particularly notable this morning, which saw open tears and emotion from Sophie, Zara, and Eugenie, as well as a moment in which Andrew was seen physically comforting both his daughters and what appeared to be a group moment of consolation for the extended family.

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Last but not least, William released a statement acknowledging the death of his grandmother:

This was followed by a walkabout at Windsor with Kate. But SURPRISE, he invited Harry and Meghan to join. For 40 minutes, the once Fab Four worked the crowds. I watched via BBC, which mainly stayed on William and Kate, and what I was most struck by was how long and involved their conversations were as they moved down the line. This wasn’t a cursory appearance, and it’s something that absolutely wouldn’t have happened back in 1952. And didn’t.

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Kensington Palace confirmed that the Sussexes’ inclusion was per an 11th hour invitation from William. And William is going to receive a lot of praise for extending an olive branch. In the short- and medium-term, this move may well help him, because if relations continue to devolve and/or there is another attack via an interview or Harry’s memoir, William looks like the bigger person. His status is also ironclad now as Prince of Wales – they’re no longer both dukes and sons of the Heir. William is the next king and Harry is barred from using his HRH while living in Montecito.

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I think it was a mistake in the long-term. Harry and Meghan aren’t working royals and while they are members of the family, in my opinion that means they get to attend the funeral and join the family privately. Had they been present at Balmoral with the Yorks and Wessexes, fine. William and Kate’s first walkabout as Prince and Princess of Wales? No. That was a historic moment and Harry and Meghan have walked away from that.

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More to the point, Harry and Meghan have been given the optics withheld from them at the Platinum Jubilee and will be able to use this to reinforce their close ties to senior royals. Their royal lifespan has been extended, which we’ve seen fraying in the media over the last few months.

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If in the private sphere, Queen Elizabeth’s death helps broker peace, great. But this afternoon felt more akin to William and Harry walking side-by-side after the funeral of The Duke of Edinburgh – a mostly empty stunt. And right now, the stakes are too high and too historic. Harry and Meghan have declared themselves outside the senior fold on a public scale. Fine. Then let’s let them live that, and with that.

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This will be my last update on this post. Going forward, I will transition to a more normal post structure and/or begin updating a post that tracks the funeral procession over the next week.

9 thoughts on “The Accession of Charles III (Sept. 8-10)

  1. LEW

    Do you think they will have the initial lying in state at Holyrood, Rebecca? I know that was part of London Bridge if she died in Scotland.

    I’m struggling to get my head around “King Charles”. I rather imagine he is.

    1. Hi! I just put up a post called Operation Unicorn that covers the logistics from today until the funeral…or when we think the funeral will likely take place per the original plan. But yes, I do think we’ll see a Holyrood lying in state and then one at Westminster Hall.

  2. LEW

    I think Kate staying behind was absolutely right. All the children starting a new school and this happening, a parent had to be there.

    I have been blown away by today really. Charles (like Harry) should never, ever play poker, but perhaps showing more emotion and vulnerability is going to be a strength rather than a weakness. The Queen did it her way, which worked brilliantly, but it is not the only way. As someone who hated what happened to the 19 year old Diana, Charles with his face full of tears still touched my heart when he followed his father’s coffin at Windsor. He comes over as entirely authentic and genuine and this means a lot, it is probably the most important thing. His address was wonderful and I think reflected that quality.

  3. LEW

    Should have added, yes to the currency. Pre decimalisation, it was quite usual to get George V coins and even the occasional bun penny in your pocket money!

    The continuity…


    What are your thoughts on how vastly different the crowd’s mourning if compared to Diana’s death? The amount of flowers and cards at the BP gates pale in comparison.

    1. Lesley

      The flowers are being placed by people in St James’s Park rather than outside the Palace, ones outside the Palace are being moved there too. 💐

  5. LEW

    I think the walkabout invite at least means they won’t be able to use the “We were deliberately excluded” line once the dust settles. I would love it to be the start of a solid rebuilding but at the moment it could just be a ceasefire and only time will tell.

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