When the sovereign dies, the heir inherits the throne immediately, hence the famous dictum, ‘The king is dead, long live the king!’ The transfer of power is seamless. Yet monarchs of England, and later Britain, that have not been crowned do not seem fully king or queen, for we view uncrowned (and of course ‘un-sworn’ – not having taken the Coronation Oath) sovereigns – as being in part not fully sovereign.
The often-forgotten Edward V (one of the Princes in the Tower) reigned for just 77 days, and was murdered shortly after his deposition. Lady Jane Grey (the 9-day queen) has always been seen as a usurper, yet had she taken the Coronation Oath and been crowned, what then would Mary Tudor have done? As it happened, she led the only successful coup d’état of the sixteenth century. In a modern context, Edward VIII (of the abdication crisis and Wallis Simpson fame) did swear the Scottish Oath immediately upon accession (as Charles III has already done), but the royal family was relieved that Edward VIII did not abdicate post Coronation. The late Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) stated that it was fortunate ‘he was never crowned, and that was one of the good things he did. If he was going to make up his mind to go away, to do it before’.