On Friday evening, King Charles III addressed the U.K. for the first time in a pre-recorded address to the nation. In the instantly historic 9-minute speech he paid tribute to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday, and said he would step back from his sometimes controversial charitable activities.
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He also confirmed that Prince William would accede to the king’s former role as heir apparent, taking on the titles of Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales. William’s wife Catherine therefore becomes the new Princess of Wales, the first woman to hold the title since Diana.
In his speech Charles also re-affirmed his love for Harry and Meghan, putting to rest rumors of a rift between the father and son.
Speaking directly to his mother, King Charles said: “Thank you. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” He also spoke of his “deep sense of gratitude for the more than 70 years” she served on the throne, and thanked the public for the outpouring of affection towards her.
“Her dedication and devotion of sovereign never wavered through times of change and progress through times of joy and celebration and through times of sadness and loss,” he said. He also said the Queen’s funeral would take place in “little over a week,” suggesting it may be held on the weekend of Sept. 17-18.
The king recorded the speech earlier this afternoon in the blue drawing room at Buckingham Palace. He arrived at the palace with his wife Camilla, who is now the Queen Consort, directly from Scotland. The couple spent some time greeting the crowds outside the palace before moving inside where the new king had an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss before recording the speech.
Read the whole speech below:
“I speak to you today with feelings of profound sorrow. My beloved mother was an inspiration, an example to me and to all my family. And we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family could ever owe to their mother for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example. Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well-lived, a promise with destiny kept, and she is mourned most deeply in her passing.
That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today. Alongside the personal grief that all my family of feeling we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in all the countries where the Queen was head of state, in the Commonwealth and across the world, a deep sense of gratitude for the more than 70 years in which my mother as Queen served the people of so many nations. In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she pledged, in a broadcast from Cape Town to the Commonwealth, to devote her life whether it be short or long, to the service of her peoples.
That was more than a promise. It was a profound personal commitment, which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty. Her dedication and devotion as sovereign never wavered, through times of change and progress, through times of joy and celebration and through times of sadness and loss. In her life of service, we saw that abiding love of tradition together with that fearless embrace of progress, which makes us great as nations.
The affection, admiration and respect she inspired became a hallmark of her reign. And as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth and humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people. I pay tribute to my mother’s memory that I honor her life of service.
I know that this brings great sadness to so many of you. And I share that sense of loss beyond measure with you all. When the Queen came to the throne, Britain and the world was still coping with the privations and aftermath of the Second World War and still living by the conventions of earlier times. In the course of the last 70 years, we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths. The institutions of the state have changed in turn. But through all changes and challenges, our nation and the wider family of realms, of whose talents traditions and achievements I am so inexpressibly proud, have prospered and flourished. Our values have remained and must remain constant. The role and the duties of monarchy also remain, as does the sovereign’s particular relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England. The church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted. In that faith, and the values it inspires, I have been brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others and to hold in the greatest respect the precious traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government. As the Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too, now solemnly pledged myself throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.
And 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 endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect, and love, as I have throughout my life. My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities. It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others. This is also a time of change for my family. I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla. In recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort. I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I have come to rely so much. As my heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me. He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall, which I have undertaken for more than five decades. Today I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I’ve been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty. With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground where vital help can be given. I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas. In a little over a week’s time we will come together as a nation, as a commonwealth, and indeed a global community, to lay my beloved mother to rest. In our sorrow let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example. On behalf of all my family I can only offer the most sincere and heartfelt thanks for your condolences and support. They mean more to me than I can ever possibly express.
And to my darling Mama, as you begin your last, great journey bind 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. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
King Charles III will make his first address to the nation in his new role as the U.K.’s reigning monarch at 6 p.m. local time on Friday.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, made the announcement as Parliament sat for an extended session to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday afternoon at Balmoral, her castle in the Scottish Highlands.
On Friday late morning the King left Scotland to travel to London, where he is scheduled an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss this afternoon.
Buckingham Palace confirmed that Charles will officially be anointed king on Saturday at 10AM at St James’s Palace in London. The Accession Council, a ceremonial body comprised of senior politicians past and present as well as Commonwealth high commissioners, senior government employees and the Lord Mayor of London, will preside over the ceremony.
This is then set to be followed by the coronation at Westminster Abbey although there may be a significant delay between the two events due to the planning required. The King’s mother succeeded to the throne in February 1952 but was only crowned 16 months later, in June 1953.
The U.K. has suspended all political activity for 10 days and events across the country and even abroad have been cancelled while the country officially enters an extended period of mourning. At King Charles’ request it will continue until seven days after the Queen’s funeral. The date of the funeral has not yet been confirmed but is expected to take place in the next two weeks. Prince Phillip’s funeral took place eight days after his death on April 9, 2021.
King Charles has only made one public statement since acceding to the throne on Thursday afternoon, but his address to the nation is widely expected to pay tribute to the woman he called “Mummy” as well as emphasizing the country’s unity, longevity and continuity.
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” he said in a written statement on Thursday. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.“
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.”
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