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His Majesty King Charles III immediately succeeded to the Throne upon the death of his mother, Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on the afternoon of Thursday 8 September.

To quote the Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot, the Accession of a monarch animates both the “dignified” and “efficient” parts of the uncodified British constitution. It involves not only the UK Parliament but also the Government, the Privy Council and the established Church of England.

No two Accessions are the same, although some aspects have a deep historical provenance. The death of Queen Elizabeth was announced on Twitter and many aspects of The King’s Accession were televised, not only his first Privy Council meeting but also the late sovereign’s Lying-in-State, State Funeral at Westminster Abbey and Committal Ceremony at Windsor. The Queen’s death at her Balmoral estate initiated an unprecedented period of Scottish ceremonial, including a day in which the late monarch’s Coffin Lay-at-Rest in St Giles’ Cathedral. The UK’s other established church, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, played a prominent role.

The Accession of Charles III also reflected a UK constitution significantly changed from that in February 1952. Among The King’s first acts as Sovereign was to visit Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, all autonomous parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. King Charles succeeded to the Throne in Scotland (the first monarch to do so since 1542), met representatives of both the Nationalist and Unionist communities in Northern Ireland and addressed the Senedd in both Welsh and English.

This briefing paper describes the constitutional and ceremonial events that followed the Accession of King Charles. It analyses an important 12 days in the history of the UK and its constitutional monarchy.

For further analysis of events associated with the Demise of the Crown between 1901 and 1952, please see the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, The death of a monarch.

Documents to download

The UK’s constitutional monarchy

Briefings on the Crown, its role in Parliament, the Commonwealth and the Overseas Territories, and the roles associated with the UK’s constitutional monarch.

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