King Charles III Inaugurates Rishi Sunak as British Prime Minister

King Charles III Inaugurates Rishi Sunak as British Prime Minister
King Charles III Inaugurates Rishi Sunak as British Prime Minister

London - King Charles III installed Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak as Britain's new prime minister in an official ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday (25/10/2022). The inauguration marks the first of a new king's reign, with former leader Liz Truss also traveling to the palace to formally step down from the position she took less than three months ago.

Truss was the last prime minister appointed by Queen Elizabeth II who, too ill to travel south of London, performed the official "kissing hand" ceremony from Balmoral Castle in Scotland where she died just two days later at the age of 96. After a brief stint in leadership, Sunak, was chosen by the Conservative party to replace Truss.

Sunak, who has a background in finance after studying at Stanford University as a Fulbright scholar, became a Member of Parliament in 2015. He is the country's first Anglo-Asian prime minister and the first Hindu. The new prime minister is asked by the king to form a government in his name, as is customary in England where the government exercises power on behalf of the constitutional monarch, in room 1844 at Buckingham Palace.

The gathering is known as a "hand kiss" ceremony, although no actual kissing takes place. This stems from a traditional process in which the prime minister is required to kiss the hand of the ruler as a sign of loyalty. The holding of the meeting itself is now considered a fulfillment of this obligation.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams highlighted that although Charles formally appointed a new prime minister, as constitutional monarch in modern times, he was excluded from official leadership elections which were left to the political parties themselves. "Accepting a new prime minister when advised by his predecessors that they can command support from the Commons is a significant constitutional duty of the king," he said.

"The king first gives an audience to the outgoing prime minister. The palace is very careful that the king acts on advice and is personally excluded from options if Parliament is hanged, which may be controversial, as it is important that the king's role is above party politics," he continued. Sunak is Charles' second prime minister, and the first he has sworn in.

His mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, had 15 prime ministers during her 70-year reign. The first, in 1952, was Sir Winston Churchill. Unless called earlier by a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons or by the prime minister himself, the UK's next general election will not be held until 2025.

This means Sunak will likely be the ruling leader at the time of Charles' coronation, set to take place on 6 May 2023. Although the coronation is a religious ceremony not a government ceremony, Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, are expected to be among the invited guests at Westminster Abbey.

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