What is the role of the King on results day?

"You must be absolutely exhausted," the King said to Keir Starmer in the meeting that officially appointed him as the new prime minister

There was once a time when British Monarchs had absolute power.

But in our parliamentary democracy, King Charles, like Queen Elizabeth before him, has very few prerogative powers left - most of them having been abolished or placed elsewhere with ministers.

But one of the King's remaining prerogative powers (exercised by the Monarch acting alone) is his role in appointing a prime minister.

The Monarch's job is to ask the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, now Sir Keir Starmer, if he can command the confidence of the House. In other words, does he have a working majority of MPs with which he can form a stable government?

Today, that means Rishi Sunak made a farewell speech in Downing Street, before travelling with his wife to see the King as prime minister for one last time to tender his resignation.

They were met at the Sovereign's entrance by the King and Queen's Principal Private Secretary, Sir Clive Alderton, and one of the King's equerries.

They arrived in the quadrangle of the palace and meet the Monarch in the private audience room, before Sunak departed by the back door (usually the garden exit) to preserve some dignity.

The King then invited Starmer to attend Buckingham Palace and asked him to form the new government.

Just before his arrival certain executive powers are vested in the Monarch - although in reality they will never be used.

Sir Keir Starmer has secured a resounding election victory over Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives. Credit: PA

Between David Cameron and Theresa May, for example, there was only 32 seconds between one car leaving and the new one arriving.

Only the King and Starmer will be in the audience room when the Monarch asks him to form a new administration.

The Labour leader will not "kiss the hands" of the Monarch - as happened in the past - but will instead bow.

Tony Blair wrote in his memoirs that he tripped on the carpet at this moment and almost fell into the hands of Queen Elizabeth.

Having accepted the "commission" to form a new government, the King and his new prime minister will have a brief exchange.

If he wants it, Starmer can have a moment in another room to collect his thoughts and make final adjustments to his big speech, before being shown out by an equerry.

The prime minister will then be driven to Downing Street, where he will address the nation outside the door of Number 10 at around 12.20pm.

The next scheduled weekly audience between King Charles and his new prime minister will take place on Wednesday, July 10.

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