Royal rules: How Prince Charles’ accession could cause trouble for Parliament

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Prince Charles, 71, is the oldest King in Waiting in British history and has remained heir to the throne for most of his life. His mother, the now 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, is the longest-reigning monarch, meaning it could be some time still until Prince Charles become King. When he does, however, it could cause trouble for some Parliamentarians.

When the Queen eventually dies, her son will follow her, beginning a chain reaction of changes within the monarchy and Government.

One of these takes place in Parliament, as the upper chamber swore an oath to the Queen on appointment.

When Prince Charles becomes King, they will need to reconvene for a new session as a matter of urgency, which may pull many members away from other duties.

University College London’s Constitution Unit explained: “Parliament is recalled for parliamentarians to take their oaths of allegiance to the new sovereign.”


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“Peers in the House of Lords have to take a new oath.”

While peers need to take a new oath, those in the lower chamber may not do this.

The Constitution Unit added: “MPs in the Commons are not required to do so (because their oath is to ‘bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors’), but they may if they choose.

“Parliament will then mourn the death of the Queen in debates led by the Prime Minister.”

Peers in the House of Lords aren’t the only people who take a new oath, the newly appointed monarch does as well.

On accession, the Accession council – made up of the Privy Council and other dignitaries such as the Lord Mayor of London – convenes at St James’ Palace.

There, they proclaim the new monarch, and the Sovereign reads a declaration and takes an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland.

They take another oath known as the accession declaration to establish Protestant succession on the next State Opening of Parliament.

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While the accession is a stately event in terms of coronation and Parliamentary oath, becoming King will be an easy process for Prince Charles.

The heir to the throne automatically takes the monarch’s place when they die, and the presiding Accession Council is present only for acknowledgement.

A coronation is unnecessary for a King or Queen to reign, and some monarchs have gone without in the past.

The Constitution Unit said: “Charles will become King the moment the Queen dies.”

“The Accession Council merely acknowledges and proclaims that he is the new King, following the death of the Queen.

“It is not necessary for the monarch to be crowned in order to become King: Edward VIII reigned as King without ever being crowned.”

Coronation is currently a uniquely British practice, as no other European royals take part in the tradition.

In the UK, the Government handles both the funding and the guest list, and the event is treated as a state event.

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