Why the British Royal Family May Postpone Outings as Surprise General Election Announced

Could King Charles soon have the third prime minister of his reign?

<p>Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images</p> King Charles (left) and the U.K.

Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images

King Charles (left) and the U.K.'s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Oct. 25, 2022

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's call for a surprise general election on July 4 may change the British royal family's summer plans.

Speaking in a news conference outside 10 Downing Street on May 22, Sunak said, "Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty The King to ask for the dissolution of Parliament. The King has granted this request, and we will have a general election on the 4th of July."

The royal family will postpone engagements "which may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said on May 21.

"Their Majesties send their sincere apologies to any of those who may be affected as a result," the spokesperson added.

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty Images</p> King Charles and Queen Camilla on May 15, 2024

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

King Charles and Queen Camilla on May 15, 2024

Related: King Charles Says He Has Been 'Reduced to Tears' Over Response to His Cancer Diagnosis in Vulnerable Moment

While the events surrounding the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, including King Charles' first overseas trip since he announced his cancer diagnosis in February, are expected to go on as scheduled, others are under review and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

June was shaping up to be a busy month for the British royals, including Trooping the Colour, the annual celebration of the monarch's birthday with a parade in London, on June 15 and a state visit at Buckingham Palace for the Emperor and Empress of Japan set for late June. King Charles, 75, recently returned to a fuller schedule of royal duties, including public outings, amid his cancer treatment. The King quipped during a May 9 outing to the Royal School of Military Engineering that he was glad to be "out of my cage" after spending several months working mainly behind the scenes or taking part in small audiences.

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Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Queen Elizabeth and Liz Truss on Sept. 6, 2022
Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Queen Elizabeth and Liz Truss on Sept. 6, 2022

Related: King Charles Takes on New Military Role Previously Held by Queen Elizabeth — Why It's 'Especially Dear'

The election could mean the third prime minister of King Charles' reign, which began in Sept. 2022 upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth's final formal duty as sovereign was when she appointed Liz Truss as the 15th prime minister of her historic 70-year reign. The royal died two days later. However, Truss soon became the shortest-serving prime minister in the U.K.'s history, serving just 45 days.

In a meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, King Charles formally appointed Sunak as leader of the U.K. Parliament following the politician's victory in the contest to lead the Conservative Party in Oct. 2022.

<p>JONATHAN BRADY/POOL/AFP via Getty</p> Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles on Feb. 21, 2024


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles on Feb. 21, 2024

Following a general election or prime minister's resignation, the new potential prime minister will traditionally travel to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the monarch.

"During the audience, the monarch will ask whether he or she will form a government," the royal family states on its website. "To this question, two responses are realistically possible. The most usual is acceptance."

The King also holds a private weekly audience with the prime minister "to discuss government matters."

"Though the King remains politically neutral on all matters, he is able to 'advise and warn' his ministers — including his prime minister — when necessary," according to the royal family's website.

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