The King’s Prime Ministers: 2022-Present

A look at the British leaders King Charles has worked with

King Charles is a constitutional Monarch, meaning he exercises his power only on the recommendation of the British Government or his Privy Council. Previous powers that were once the Monarch’s have – for centuries – been passed to the Government of the day and exercised as part of the constitutional monarchy system.

The relationship between The King and Prime Minister

Following tradition, The King and his Prime Minister usually meet once a week to discuss current affairs, the progress and challenges of the Government, and His Majesty usually offers advice.

King Charles III is a constitutional Monarch, meaning he uses his powers – royal prerogative – in accordance with custom and advice from ministers

No minutes are taken of these meetings, allowing for free conversation and frank exchange of opinion – this is one of the key duties a Monarch performs, being able to ‘advise and warn’ their ministers. Monarchs exercise their power in line with custom and on the advice of their ministers.

While we never quite know how well the Monarch and their Prime Ministers get along, a regular tradition is for a Prime Minister to be invited to Balmoral over the summer holidays, and many go on to be appointed to the Order of the Garter, which is a personal gift from The King.

We’ve taken at look at the Prime Ministers who have held office during the reign of Charles III and tell you some interest facts about the relationship he had with some of his Prime Ministers…

Liz Truss

Liz Truss was the first Prime Minister of Charles’ reign; she was only invited to formally form a Government at Balmoral two days before the death of Elizabeth II. Truss was the 15th Prime Minister in the reign of Elizabeth II.

King Charles III held his first in-person audience with Prime Minister, Liz Truss – Britain’s third female premier – on 9th September 2022 at Buckingham Palace.

King Charles III met the UK Prime Minister. (@RoyalFamily)

As Prime Minister at the time, the funeral of Elizabeth II was a key royal event during her time in office. She also accompanied Charles and Camilla on their visits across the UK as King and Queen during the period of official mourning.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak was appointed as the second British Prime Minister in King Charles’ reign in October 2022, following a leadership contest within the Conservative party after Truss’ departure.

Sunak is the first British Asian and Hindu to hold the office, and aged 42 at the time of his appointment, he was also the youngest Prime Minister for more than 200 years.

The King meets Rishi Sunak, as he becomes the new British Prime Minsiter. (Royal Family)

Prior to taking on the top job, The King and Mr Sunak had met on a number of occasions, primarily through the work of the British Asian Trust.

On 21st February 2024, The King held his first in-person weekly audience with Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace since Charles’ cancer diagnosis earlier that month. In-between the cancer announcement and their first in-person meeting, Charles and Rishi instead had weekly phone calls, reminiscent of the late Queen’s regular phone calls with Boris Johnson during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir became the third Prime Minister of the reign, following the 2024 General Election, which saw the Labour party win a total of 410 seats.

The King greeted the Labour leader during an audience at Buckingham Palace on 5th July 2024, where Sir Keir was invited by His Majesty to form a government after Rishi Sunak conceded the election.

Charles and Sir Keir Starmer during their first audience. (Royal Family)

Starmer has been given his Knighthood by Prince Charles back in 2014, for his work as head of the Crown Prosecution Service and director of Public Prosecutions.

Following the meeting, it was recorded by the Court Circular that ‘the Prime Minister kissed hands on appointment’ – there is no kissing of the hand involved. In fact, being received by King Charles is enough to validate the appointment, though there is usually a handshake. The language harks back to a time when kissing of hands symbolised loyalty and fealty.

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