He will be crowned in a special ceremony televised around the world, one side of Australia’s coins will resemble it and the country will receive But what is the king’s role and what role will King Charles III play now?
“There is not much he has to do,” said Dr Cindy McCreary, a history lecturer at the University of Sydney, as his role is mostly ceremonial.
His Majesty’s Responsibilities
“What is left of Britain’s monarchy today are a few ceremonial activities,” McCreary said.
Until the late 17th century, British monarchs ruled in a much greater sense than they do today.
While the first kings and queens were absolute monarchs, the British royal family has now operated within a constitutional monarchy for more than 300 years.
After the so-called Glorious Revolution, the monarch in the United Kingdom had to rule by Parliament.
The monarch’s primary responsibility is to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
“But again, this is on the advice of the government,” said Dr. McCreary.
The late Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Blaise Truss during a meeting in Balmoral, Scotland, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party to become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and form a new government. source: AAP / Jane Barlow
“The king usually opens [the UK] Parliament every year delivers a speech from the throne. “But the letter was not written by the king, but the letter was written by the prime minister to the king,” she added.
McCreary noted that there have been times in history when the reigning monarch has not fulfilled this duty.
“It is not a rule that Parliament cannot sit if the King does not open it,” she said.
As king, Charles III also assumed two other ceremonial roles, becoming head of the Anglican Church and commander of the British armed forces.
“This is not something the king is directly involved in unlike in previous centuries when kings had already led British armies, or English armies in particular, into battle,” McCreary said.
What is the role of the king in Australia?
As the monarch, King Charles III is the head of state of Australia, the highest representative of the territory.
This is the case for all fifteen Commonwealth realms, including the United Kingdom.
While the King takes a leadership role in the British Armed Forces and provides royal assent to legislation there, in Australia the Governor-General as the King’s representative performs these roles here.
“The Governor-General, for all intents and purposes, acts, if you will, on behalf of the King in Australia,” said Dr. McCreary.
King Charles III has links with a number of charities. Here he would meet representatives of the British Asian Trust before they embarked on the charity’s cycling event Palaces on Wheels in England. source: AAP / Arthur Edwards
British Sovereignty and Politics
UK prime ministers often referred to the late Queen’s political knowledge, something they noted during their weekly meetings with her, a practice previously chosen by King Charles.
“It’s a habit rather than any rule, a tradition that has been well kept,” said Dr. McCreary.
“The King reserves the right to advise and also the right to advise and warn, however, there is no obligation on behalf of the Prime Minister to listen to or act upon anything the King says.”
The purpose, she said, was to inform the king or queen of governmental matters.
“There is absolutely no record of those meetings, or what influence, if any, the Queen had on prime ministers under her reign,” McCreary said.
King Charles, like his mother before him, has a close circle of members of the royal family known as state counsellors, who are able to intervene on his behalf in certain situations.
In terms of what Charles does every day, there are actually relatively few requirements.
The daily life of the king
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are expected to move into Buckingham Palace from Clarence House.
Although, as Dr. McCreary said, like British royalty before him, the new king is likely to spend some time across a number of residences.
“In terms of what Charles does every day, there are really few requirements,” she said.
She said he would play a diplomatic role, as the king is responsible for welcoming dignitaries such as ambassadors and high commissioners to the court of St James in the UK.
She expects him to spend time traveling the realms of the Commonwealth and fostering the royal family’s long-standing relationships with charitable organizations by engaging with the British public.
Dr McCreary said King Charles might choose to focus some of his time promoting environmental issues as he has done in the past and spend time in areas of interest which include architecture, town planning and organic farming.