The Process of Accession

The Process of Accession

A new Sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies and is proclaimed as soon as possible at an Accession Council in St James's Palace.

Usually, all members of the Privy Council are summoned, however, there are now more members of the Council than there is room in the Chamber and so it is likely that senior members will automatically be called, and others will be summoned by means of a lottery. The Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London and High Commissioners of Realm Commonwealth countries are invited to attend. 

At this stage new sovereigns are asked to specify the regnal name by which they wish to be known, which is inserted into the draft of the Proclamation..

In London the public proclamation of the new Sovereign is first read out at St James's Palace.

The proclamation is also read out publicly in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. In each city the accession is traditionally proclaimed at several different spots.

Parliament is immediately recalled for Parliamentarians to take their oaths of allegiance to the new sovereign and mourn the death of the old.

Inaugural Meeting of the Privy Council

The new sovereign is then conducted to their first Privy Council meeting, which takes place in the Throne Room of the Palace and is confined to members of the UK Privy Council only. At this meeting the new sovereign makes an inaugural Declaration. and takes the oath to preserve the Church of Scotland. The oath to maintain the established Protestant succession, known as the accession declaration, is normally made at the next State Opening of Parliament. Arrangements for the lying-in state are also  approved. 

Below is the text of Queen Elizabeth II's Personal Declaration on the death of her father in 1952:

"Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen:

By the sudden death of my dear Father, I am called to assume the duties and responsibilities of the Sovereignty.

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 that his loss brings is shared among us all.

My heart is too full to say more to you today than that I shall always work, as my Father did throughout his Reign, to uphold constitutional government and to advance the happiness and prosperity of my Peoples, spread as they are all the world over. I know that in my resolve to follow his shining example of service and devotion, I shall be inspired by the loyalty and affection of those whose Queen I have been called to be, and by the counsel of their elected Parliaments. I pray that God will help me discharge worthily this heavy task that has been laid upon me so early in my life


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