In his first public address since ascending to the throne, King Charles III said he feels “profound sorrow” over the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and vowed to carry on her “lifelong service” to the nation.
Charles, who spent much of his 73 years preparing for the role of king, spoke to a nation grieving the only British monarch most people alive today had ever known. He takes the throne in an era of uncertainty for both his country and the monarchy itself.
“That promise of lifelong service I renew to all today,” he said in the recorded, 9 1/2-minute address, delivered with a framed photo of the queen on a desk in front of him.
His speech was broadcast on television and streamed at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where some 2,000 people were attending a service of remembrance for the queen. Mourners at the service included Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government.
The new king pledged to uphold the “constitutional principles at the heart of our nation” as Her Majesty the Queen did “with such unswerving devotion.”
“Wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the Realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life,” Charles said.
The king announced that his eldest son William, heir to the throne, would succeed him as Duke of Cornwall, creating him “Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty.”
William’s wife Katherine, the now-former Duchess of Cambridge, will known as the Princesses of Wales. The couple said in a statement they are focused on “deepening the trust and respect of the people of Wales over time” and pledged to approach their roles in a “modest and humble way.”
Charles added that he wanted to express his “love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
Meghan, 41, and Harry, 37, have been in a tense relationship with Britain’s royal family since they stepped away from royal duties and left the U.K. in early 2020, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
He closed the address with a personal message to his “darling Mama”:
“As you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you. Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years.”
As the country began a 10-day mourning period, people around the globe gathered at British embassies to pay homage to the queen, who died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
In London and at military sites across the United Kingdom, cannons fired 96 shots in an elaborate, 16-minute salute marking each year of the queen’s life.
Britain has begun a 10-day mourning period, with bells tolling around the country and 96-gun salutes in London and across the UK — one for each year of Queen Elizabeth’s life.
On the king’s first full day of duties, Charles left Balmoral and flew to London for a meeting with Truss, appointed by the queen just two days before her death.
He arrived at Buckingham Palace, the monarch’s London home, for the first time as sovereign, emerging from the official state Bentley limousine alongside Camilla, the queen consort, to shouts from the crowd of “Well done, Charlie!” and the singing of the national anthem, now called “God Save the King.” One woman gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Under intense scrutiny and pressure to show he can be both caring and regal, Charles walked slowly past flowers heaped at the palace gates for his mother. The mood was both grieving and celebratory.
The seismic change of monarch comes at a time when many Britons are facing an energy crisis, the soaring cost of living, the war in Ukraine and the fallout from Brexit.
As the second Elizabethan Age came to a close, hundreds of people arrived through the night to grieve together outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, as well as British embassies worldwide. Some came simply to pause and reflect.
At Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, mourner April Hamilton stood with her young daughter, struggling to hold back tears.
“It’s just such a momentous change that is going to happen,” she said. “I’m trying to hold it together today.”