On Sept. 6 his ailing mother said a formal hello to Liz Truss at Balmoral—two days later the queen was dead. After a 49-day constitutional, fiscal and political rollercoaster that left many Britons with profound motion sickness, it fell to her son, King Charles III, to officially defenestrate the woman who now holds the humiliating record of being Britain’s shortest serving prime minister.
Truss emerged from the famous front door at 10 Downing Street shortly after 11am on Tuesday and delivered a perfunctory 3-minute speech which hailed the accession of King Charles III and, in a bizarre echo of her political hero Boris Johnson, included a garbled quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca.
Truss notably failed to apologize for a single element of her disastrous tenure—which saw the Bank of England forced to step in with emergency measures to prevent a run on the British pension system—instead insisting that she had somehow been right about everything.
She was then bundled into a state car and whisked through the streets of Central London, dappled with autumn sunshine, to tender her resignation to the king, which, the palace said, the king was “graciously pleased” to accept.
Truss adds to her claims to fame being one of very few PMs to be installed by one monarch and waved off by another. Winston Churchill was the last such PM to be so fated.
Truss has had several weekly “audiences” with the king during her seven weeks in power.
On one occasion—as Britain’s reputation for fiscal probity twisted in the wind—Charles greeted her with the words, “Dear, oh dear” which were caught on a hot mic.
A few minutes after she had departed, Britain’s new PM, Rishi Sunak, 42, made his own way to Buckingham Palace for the so-called “kissing of hands” ceremony.
Sunak and Truss were both received in the 1844 room, at the back of the building, which looks out over the palace gardens.
Sunak was received by Sir Clive Alderton, the king’s private secretary.
It is likely that Sunak would have been introduced to the king as the Right Honourable Rishi Sunak by an equerry, and then left alone in the 1844 room with Sunak.
Sunak would have been invited to kneel (although the incoming PM is no longer actually required to kiss the king’s hand) and then asked by Charles if he was able to form a Government.
On replying in the affirmative, Sunak would have officially become the PM.
By tradition, the king’s equerry is then invited back into the room and becomes the first person to say, “Congratulations, Prime Minster.”
It is commonly understood that the ceremony to anoint a British prime minister was most accurately portrayed by Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, and Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen directed by Stephen Frears.