King Charles III paid tribute to his mother Queen Elizabeth II in his first speech to the nation, following her death yesterday, describing her as “an inspiration”.
The Queen passed away at the age of 96 on the afternoon of Thursday, September 8 at Balmoral.
Her death brings an end to a 70-year reign, the longest in history of Great Britain, having ascended the throne following the death of her father, King George VI on 6 February 1952.
Mourners pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
Charles and Camilla remained in Balmoral overnight, before they returned to London today.
What did King Charles say in his address to the nation?
King Charles said: “I speak to you with feelings of profound sorrow.
“Throughout her life, Her Majesty The Queen – my beloved Mother – was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother.
“Queen Elizabeth 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.”
The King added how the “affection, admiration and respect” the Queen inspired “became the hallmark of her reign”, adding: “And, as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.”
Charles said that when The Queen came to the throne: “Britain and the world were 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 seventy years we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths.
“As the Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the Constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.”
The King said he was creating his son and heir, William, Prince of Wales adding: “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.”
He also wanted to express his love “for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”.
The King ended his address by saying: “To my 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. May ‘flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’.”
When will Charles officially become King?
Charles has automatically become King after the death of his mother, but an Accession Council is usually convened at St James’s Palace in London within 24 hours of the death of a sovereign.
It will be later following the death of the Queen because the announcement of her death did not come until early evening on Thursday, meaning there was not enough time to set the plans in motion for Friday morning.
Therefore Charles will be formally declared King at the Accession Council on Saturday, September 10.