What effect does the Queen’s death have on the U.K’s new prime minister? 

Theo McDonald 

If you had been put in a coma on Monday 5th September and awoken at the end of the week you would’ve entered an entirely new world.

Those events that played out in Britain two weeks ago…

On Tuesday 6th September, Prime Minister Liz Truss was selected by the Conservative Party as their new leader, and automatically the occupier of No. 10 Downing Street, succeeding Boris Johnson.

A mere two days later, Queen Elizabeth II passed away, ending her tenure as the longest-reigning monarch the United Kingdom has ever seen. 

Scenes of outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s farewell speech and Liz Truss’ entering into No. 10 were quickly eclipsed by thousands of mourners enveloping the streets of London, not seen since the death of Princess Diana, wishing farewell to the late monarch.


The heir to the throne, Queen Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III – bequeathed that title given the two King Charles’ that preceded him, one of whom had their head chopped off – will have tough shoes to fill from his late mother.

While she gained the throne at the tender age of 25, Charles is ascending to the throne at the age of 73 – the oldest monarch to do so – meaning he is unlikely to have the same impact that his mother had. 

Observers will watch closely how well he adapts into the complex role of British Monarch. 

Despite the immensity of privilege and prestige bestowed upon a reigning British Monarch, the King or Queen of the day does not hold any real powers beyond the ceremonial undertakings many readers may find tedious.

Among them: Signing laws -‘Royal Assent’ – as well as the power to dissolve Parliament and call elections; being the head of the Church of England; and even maintaining dominion over all dolphins in Britain – imagine if Michael D. Higgins had dominion over all Irish dolphins, maybe Fungi would still be around. 

Nevertheless, despite the monarch’s limited powers, King Charles III and his relationship with prime minister Truss will be crucial in setting the political agenda in the United Kingdom for however long the current government lasts. Any indication of a battle of personalities between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace will send jitters throughout the British political scene. 

As is customary, the King and prime minister will meet weekly to discuss the issues of the day – significant in that it can heavily influence the prime minister’s thinking on matters. What is discussed is completely confidential. Despite Truss’ propensity to leak information to the media, the public will never know what they have discussed. However, given the public pronouncements both the new King and new prime minister have made in the past, one could be left with the impression that they both view the world differently. 

King Charles III is a noted advocate for environmentalism dating as far back as the 1970s, when he spoke out about the dangers of pollution. More recently he has called on world leaders to treat climate change with the same level of urgency as they would a war.

Liz Truss on the other hand, has been an outspoken critic of green policies such as solar panels in rural areas and has promised to abolish ‘green levies’ – charges on the use of fossil fuels.

How issues pertaining to the climate will play out between King and prime minister are yet to be seen, but based on their predisposed views a clash of sorts could potentially ensue. 

In 2014 the playwright Mike Bartlett produced a fictionalised play titled King Charles III, where an embattled Charles is forced to abdicate the throne due to his intransigence over signing a bill proposed by the serving prime minister to limit press freedoms.

In the play, Charles’ son, William, the newly anointed Prince of Wales, takes the throne. As mentioned, the monarch signs bills into law, but reserves the right not to sign legislation if he/she so chooses. A scenario in which Charles refuses to sign a bill he finds at odds with his environmental or other publicly stated views could unleash a constitutional dilemma of sorts. 

We’ve seen this dichotomy of views between monarch and prime minister play out before: The late Queen Elizabeth II was said to have been appalled by the prime minister at the time Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to sanction the apartheid regime in South Africa. Her disapproval made its way to the press, setting in motion a political firestorm of sorts, embarrassing Downing Street in the process. 

In her past life, 19 years old to be exact, Liz Truss was an ardent Republican. No, she didn’t support the IRA, rather she sought the abolition of the royal family.

“We’ve had enough,” Truss vociferated as a member of the youth wing of the Liberal Democrats – a party now on the opposition benches to her Conservative government.

At the time, she even went as far as to refer to the royals as “disgraceful” and that she was “against the idea that people can be born to rule.” 

Will the prime minister’s past views offend the new King? Probably not. Truss has said openly that those past republican sentiments do not represent her current views – one of many positions she has flip-flopped on during her career leading one journalist to ask during the Conservative leadership contest: “Will the real Liz Truss please stand up?”  

Despite the potential clash of personalities, King Charles III knows and understands the gravity of the job he has gained. “Clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir,” he opined to the BBC four years ago. 

More recently, he outlined how his innumerable philanthropic causes, such as the Prince’s Trust, will come to a halt upon his accession as monarch: “My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities. 

“It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply.”

How effectively King Charles III will stay true to these words will come to define Britain’s long-standing constitutional monarchy in the 21st century.