The Holy Roman Emperor was the elected leader of the First Empire. When elected, the Emperor would be King of the Romans, the Imperator to bess, literally the Emperor-to be or Emperor-elect. This would be prior to his imperial coronation by the Pope (many times, but not always, for many Holy Roman Emperors were Emperor-elects.) The Emperor as King of the Romans would be elected by the seven chief electors of the empire, who would assemble in a secret college. Once elected, they would remain Emperors-to be until being crowned by the Pope. Charles, emperor during the time of the Hasburgs, was the last to be crowned in any way, shape or form, by the pope. So after him, all emperors were emperors-to be.
Electon and Title as King of Romans Edit
Before he was to be crowned, the King was supposed to be elected by the Germanian noblity as King of the Germanians. The electon would take place in the county of Franken, and all noblity could nominate their own candiates and debate. However, in the end only seven prince-electors could vote, but mainly with the influences of the noble debators. The votes of at least four prince electors is needed to become King. Once being elected King of the Germanians, he could be crowned that by the Archbishop of Cologne in Aachen. The final step to become Holy Roman Emperor was to travel to Rome and be crowned by the pope. However, most Roman Kings did not do so because of hostile relations with the current popes at their times.
As King of the Romans, the Empire would suddenly become some sort of high kingdom unless the pope affirmed the election and crowned the king-elect. This means that after Charles, the Empire could be regarded as a high kingdom of Romans.