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Queen Elizabeth II: Why Charles Is Already King, And The Key Constitutional Questions

These are the key moments to look out for in the days ahead By Professor Robert Hazell The UK is mourning Queen Elizabeth II following her death at the age of 96. Her passing raises important constitutional questions regarding how the country transitions to the reign of her son, Charles. These are the key moments to look out for in the days ahead. When will Charles become king? Charles became king the moment the Queen died, under the old common law rule Rex nunquam moritur, which means “the king never dies”. The idea is that while the sovereign may die, government must carry on. The office must therefore pass seamlessly to the heir, even if formal ceremonies have not yet been held. Those ceremonies will follow but they are effectively only endorsing a succession that has already taken place. Charles does not need to be crowned to become king. Indeed, Edward VIII was never crowned. What formal procedures follow for Charles? An Accession Council is summoned as soon as practicable after the death of a monarch. The Accession Council formally proclaims the death of one sovereign and the beginning of the reign of the next.

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