Is Charles Now King? How Royal Succession Works

King Charles III is now Britain’s monarch after Queen Elizabeth II‘s death sent the world into mourning.

Charles Philip Arthur George is Prince of Wales no longer as the succession within the British royal family happens automatically and instantly upon the death of a sovereign.

As an article on the website of Britain’s Parliament notes, “A monarch’s eldest child automatically inherits the crown upon the death of the previous monarch.”

Even as he mourns the loss of his mother, Charles has duties to fulfill mapped out during years of planning for a tragedy codenamed Operation London Bridge. In time, he will have a coronation but first, there will be eight days of mourning during which Charles—the longest-serving Prince of Wales in history—will give a special broadcast to the nation.

king charles iii opening parliam
Prince Charles, now the king, read the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament in May 2022 after Queen Elizabeth II pulled out due to health issues. Inset, the Imperial State Crown represented the absent monarch.DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES

If plans are followed, there will be a meeting of the Accession Council the day after the queen‘s death where he will be proclaimed king. However, this is a formality and Britain’s Parliament would have to intervene to stop the crown from passing to the man who has waited a lifetime to fulfill this role.

One of his first decisions was to reign as King Charles III rather than another name.

Charles was 3 years old when his mother, Elizabeth, become queen, meaning for as long as he can remember he had been next in line to the throne.

He will now begin the formal procedures that accompany accession with plans for his rise to the throne given their own codename: Spring Tide.


According to plans leaked to Politico in 2021, the proclamation will be read at St. James’ Palace and the Royal Exchange in the City of London the day after the queen’s death.

After three days, Charles will visit 900-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the estate that holds the Houses of Parliament, to receive a motion of condolence. He will then begin touring Britain, starting with Scotland, followed by Northern Ireland, and then Wales.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession in 1952

Elizabeth became queen the moment her father died on February 6, 1952, even though she was out of the country in Kenya at the time.

As the former princess made her way back to Britain, the Accession Council met in London in her absence while Canada became the first country in the world to formally proclaim her Queen, ahead of Britain.

The new monarch arrived in Britain on February 7 and appeared in person before the council on February 8, where she made a declaration. Quoted in The London Gazette at the time, she said: “At this time of deep sorrow, it is a profound consolation to me to be assured of the sympathy which you and all my Peoples feel towards me, to my Mother, and my Sister, and to the other members of my family.

“My Father was our revered and beloved Head, as he was of the wider Family of his subjects: the grief which his loss brings is shared among us all.”

Elizabeth made her Accession Declaration to Parliament in November 1952 before her formal coronation took place in 1953.

The Tragedy and Celebration of Accession Day

Most monarchs are destined to grieve and celebrate simultaneously for life as the day that marks the start of their reign is also a day for mourning.

The queen was known to spend her Accession Day, on February 6, at Sandringham, the place where her father, King George VI, died in 1952.

And she did just that in 2022 when she marked her Platinum Jubilee, a year of celebration recognizing her 70 years on the throne.

However, the jubilation was predominantly saved for June that year when thousands gathered over four days in her honor.

The anniversary itself was a day of reflection marked predominantly by a special message she released the day before outlining her vision for the future of the monarchy.

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