CHARLES was officially crowned king yesterday in a centuries-old ceremony – which showed just how long his mother had reigned.
The Council of Accession performed the ritual, but no one who attended its last meeting in 1952 to enthrone the Queen is alive today.
The ceremony was shrouded in secrecy for over 400 years.
But the pomp was revealed in fascinating detail on live television.
The Council of Accession was first formed in 1603 when Elizabeth I died childless.
It has met only 21 times since then – and always in private – to officially proclaim a new sovereign.
Seventy years ago the privy councilors – the monarch’s most senior advisers – included only those who were called ‘chief gentlemen of quality’. There were no women among them.
Yesterday, all six former prime ministers who are still alive were joined by archbishops, lords of the realm and dozens of other dignitaries.
They gathered in the Picture Gallery at St James’s Palace – as the somber ceremony began at 10am sharp, before ending in the Throne Room.
Moments after members chanted “God Save the King”, His Majesty signed the official Charles R oath from a silver inkwell, touchingly presented to him by his sons, Princes William and Harry.
Television historian Professor Kate Williams said: “We got a front row seat to history.
“These may seem like archaic formalities, but they are extremely important. And seeing it happen for the first time is something pretty special.
“What a historic moment. No one has seen this before – unless they’ve been in the room.
“It was a meeting of different eras – ancient and modern.
“The archaic words of the proclamation were heard and then broadcast on news channels and on social media.”
By tradition, all members of the Privy Council are summoned to the accession ceremony.
But the number grew from 175 to more than 700 during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
After a review, a letter was sent to all members in early 2022 informing them that attendance had been significantly reduced — and that their attendance was far from guaranteed.
Only 200 were invited, with priority given to current cabinet ministers, former prime ministers and senior judges, as well as the archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Others had to vote for one of the remaining 50 seats.
Former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major took center stage, standing next to each other in the front row.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer was also among the high-profile guests, but his hard-left republican predecessor Jeremy Corbyn was invited but did not attend.
Newly appointed business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg was seen leaving the event wearing a top hat.
Those in attendance watched intently as the Queen Consort and then Prince William followed Liz Truss into the Picture Gallery.
Penny Mordaunt, appointed Leader of the House of Commons when Mrs Truss became Prime Minister only last week, also inherited the role of Lord President of the Council.
However, due to her failing health, the Queen was unable to formalize the appointment to the Privy Council – thus creating a constitutional conundrum.
As a result, Miss Mordaunt began the meeting as Acting Lord President.
In keeping with tradition, she opened the meeting by saying: “My Lords, it is my sad duty to inform you that Her Most Gracious Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday, September 8, 2022, at Balmoral Castle.”
Prince William and the Queen Consort watched from a few meters away as the meeting progressed, as tradition dictates, initially without the King.
They were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Earl Marshal.
Miss Mordaunt handed to the clerk who read the proclamation aloud.
During the 40-minute ceremony, the king pledged to be a “defender of the faith” and to recognize “all faiths.”
Appearing on the balcony above Friary Court at St James’s Palace, the Garter’s Chief King of Arms, David White, shouted the 197-word proclamation.
He ended with a cry of “God save the King.” This was echoed by the assembled royals, including the Duke of Kent, 86, along with household staff and members of the public, as state trumpeters played the royal salute.
Cheers and cheers erupted outside St James’s Palace before the crowd of thousands sang the chorus of the national anthem and gave three cheers for the new monarch.
A VIP treat in the heat
OUTSIDE it was cold and threatening to rain. But it was stiflingly hot in the throne room of St. James’s Palace.
Six former prime ministers, reverent politicians, archbishops and aristocrats jockeyed for position to see Charles III proclaimed king.
They were the lucky 200 privy councilors – down from 700 – to be in the room.
One attendee, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, said: “It’s remarkable to be part of history. Some may think that all this ritual and ceremony is archaic.
“There are many important people in this room, but for that morning they were not important. We all just swore allegiance to the king.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey wept when Charles III was proclaimed king.
He said: “You could hear a pin drop. It had such a sense of history.
“I thought of my own family, my grandfather who fought in the war, and what the royal family meant to them.
Former Tory minister Theresa Villiers added: “This has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. But I was worried that someone would be wobbling in the hot room—probably me.