NICOLA Sturgeon will be an eyewitness to the formal proclamation of the death of the Queen and the accession of her son to the throne tomorrow.

The First Minister is one of 200 privy counsellors summoned to attend the Accession Council at St James’s Palace in London and take part in King Charles’s first Privy Council.

Buckingham Palace has said the ceremony is due to take place at 10am, and will be televised for the first time, with cameras allowed inside the State Apartments to capture the proceedings.

A Principal Proclamation will be read in public for the first time by the Garter King of Arms in the open air from the balcony overlooking Friary Court at St James’s an hour later at 11am.

It will be followed by a flurry of Proclamations around the country, with the second one at City of London at the Royal Exchange at midday on Saturday, and further Proclamations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales at midday on Sunday.

Union flags will be flown at full-mast from the time of the Principal Proclamation at St James’s Palace until one hour after the Proclamations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, after which flags will return to half-mast in mourning for the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

Charles automatically became King on the death of his mother on Thursday.

The Accession Council is usually convened at St James’s within 24 hours of the death of a sovereign, however it is being staged a day later for King Charles III because the announcement of the Queen’s death did not come until early evening, meaning there was not enough time to set the plans in motion for Friday morning.

The Palace said: “His Majesty The King will be proclaimed at the Accession Council at 10.00hrs tomorrow morning 10th September in the State Apartments of St James’s Palace, London.

“The Accession Council, attended by Privy Councillors, is divided into two parts. In Part I, the Privy Council, without The King present, will proclaim the Sovereign, and formally approve various consequential Orders, including the arrangements for the Proclamation.

“Part II, is the holding by The King of His Majesty’s first Privy Council. The King will make his Declaration and read and sign an oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland and approve Orders in Council which facilitate continuity of government.”

Mostly made up of past and present politicians, the Privy Council currently has more than 700 members, including former First Minister Alex Salmond.

Although traditionally all would attend, this Accession Council has been dramatically scaled down to a lack of space and concerns over safety. 

The change has angered many of those denied their chance to fulfil the ancient role of advising the monarch.

Senior politicians and members of the clergy have been prioritised, with the remaining 500 members balloted for a small number of spare seats.

When the Queen acceded to the throne, there were 281 privy counsellors.

All were summoned, with 175 attending, on 8 February 1952 when the monarch read her oath and presided over her first Privy Council.

However privy counsellor numbers have surged over the years, with up to 554 in 2010 and 719 in 2022.

The sovereign is the head of the Privy Council and the body advises the monarch as they carry out duties as head of state.

Privy Council members include cabinet members past and present, the speaker, the leaders of the main political parties, archbishops, senior judges and other senior public figures, and members are entitled to use the title Right Honourable.

Counsellors are appointed for life by the sovereign on the advice of the prime minister.

But only those privy counsellors summoned – usually cabinet ministers and a minimum of three people – by the lord president of the council attend the regular meetings, typically held monthly.

The Privy Council dates from the time of the Norman kings when the monarch met in private – hence the description Privy – with trusted counsellors who fulfilled the role the cabinet performs today.

The Daily Telegraph reported in May that Richard Tilbrook, clerk of the Privy Council, had written to counsellors warning of the change, saying St James’s Palace presents a “number of significant challenges in terms of capacity, accessibility and crowd flow”.

He added: “The pace at which an Accession Council must take place limits the additional security, infrastructure and provision we are able to make on the day.

“Even with a number of mitigations in place, there was a significant risk of overcrowding and lengthy queuing, resulting in safety issues and a compromised experience for attendees, and potentially delaying the start of the Accession Council.”

Sir Edward Leigh, Tory MP for Gainsborough, told the Telegraph it risked reducing the Privy Council into “a mere Disneyland showpiece” rather than a body that is central to the UK’s constitutional functioning.

Penny Mordaunt was appointed Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the House of Commons, on September 6 in Liz Truss’s new Cabinet, in place of Mark Spencer, with the Queen officially approving the appointment.

Ms Mordaunt is yet to be “declared” Lord President at a Privy Council meeting because the event was postponed on Wednesday when the Queen was urged to rest.

– Part l – The Proclamation

The chosen privy counsellors – without the King – will gather at St James’s Palace to proclaim the new sovereign, joined by Great Officers of State, the Lord Mayor and City Civic party, Realm High Commissioners and some senior civil servants.

If any of the counsellors summoned are not able to attend at short notice, the Council can still take place.

Camilla – the new Queen – and the Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge are already privy counsellors so will be present.

When the meeting begins, the Lord President announces the death of the sovereign and calls upon the Clerk of the Council to read aloud the text of the Accession Proclamation.

It will include Charles’s chosen title as King – already known to be King Charles III.

The platform party – made up of Camilla and William, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Earl Marshal and the Lord President – sign the Proclamation.

The Lord President then calls for silence and reads the remaining items of business, which deal with the dissemination of the Proclamation and various orders giving directions for firing guns at Hyde Park and the Tower of London.