King Charles III promises ‘lifetime service’ as new monarch


King Charles III pledged in his first address to the nation as monarch on Friday to continue Queen Elizabeth II’s “lifelong service” as Britain entered a new era under a new ruler. Around the world, the Queen’s exceptional reign has been commemorated, celebrated and debated.

Charles, who has spent much of his 73 years preparing for the role of king, addressed a nation mourning the only British monarch most people alive today have ever known. He takes the throne at a time of uncertainty both for his country and for the monarchy itself.

He spoke of his “deep sadness” over his mother’s death, calling it an inspiration.

“This promise of lifelong service that I renew to all of you today,” he said in the nine-and-a-half-minute taped speech, which came with a framed photo of the Queen on a desk in front of him.

“As the Queen herself has done with unwavering devotion, I too solemnly pledge myself, during the time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” he said. -he declares.

The King’s speech was broadcast on television and streamed to St Paul’s Cathedral, where some 2,000 people attended a memorial service for the Queen. Mourners at the service included Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government.

As the country entered a 10-day period of mourning, people from around the world gathered at British embassies to pay their respects to the Queen, who died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday.

In London and at military sites across the UK, cannons fired 96 shots in an elaborate 16-minute salute marking each year of the Queen’s life.

Widespread admiration for Elizabeth in Britain and its former colonies was sometimes mixed with contempt for the institution and the imperial history she symbolized.

Charles, who became the monarch immediately after his mother’s death, will be officially proclaimed king in a ceremony on Saturday. He is expected to tour the UK in the coming days.

The Queen’s coffin will be brought to London, where it will be laid out ahead of a funeral at Westminster Abbey, scheduled for around September 19.

On the king’s first full day on duty, Charles left Balmoral and flew to London to meet Truss, who had been appointed by the queen just two days before his death.

He arrived at Buckingham Palace, the monarch’s London home, for the first time as a sovereign, stepping out of the state’s official Bentley limousine alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort, to shouts from the crowd of “Well done played, Charlie!” and the singing of the national anthem, now called “God Save the King”. A woman gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Under scrutiny and pressure to show that he can be both caring and regal, Charles walked slowly past flowers piled up at the palace gates for his mother. The atmosphere was both mourning and celebration.

The seismic change of monarch comes at a time when many Britons are facing an energy crisis, soaring costs of living, war in Ukraine and fallout from Brexit.

In his speech, Charles looked both to the past – noting his mother’s “unwavering dedication and devotion as sovereign” – and to the future, seeking to strike a reassuring note of consistency.

He reflected on how the country had transformed under the Queen’s rule into a society “of many cultures and many religions” while “our values ​​have remained and must remain constant”.

He spoke of his son, Prince William, now heir to the throne and officially given the title Charles has long held, Prince of Wales.

“With Catherine by her side, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginalized to the center where vital help can be delivered,” said Charles, referencing the couple’s work on homelessness, mental health and other issues.

And he struck a note of reconciliation after a brutal family breakup when he said: ‘I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have had a strained relationship with the Royal Family since stepping away from official duties and leaving the country in 2020, citing what they said were unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media towards the biracial American actress. .

At the end of the Second Elizabethan Age, crowds of people arrived all day long to mourn together and lay flowers outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.

Finance clerk Giles Cudmore said the Queen had “just been a constant through everything, everything good and bad”.

At Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, mourner April Hamilton stood with her young daughter, struggling to hold back tears.

“It’s just such a big change that’s going to happen,” she said. “I’m trying to hold on today.”

Many sporting and cultural events have been canceled as a mark of respect, and some businesses – including the Selfridges department store and the Legoland amusement park – have closed. The Bank of England has postponed its meeting for a week.

Elizabeth was Britain’s longest-serving monarch and a symbol of constancy in a turbulent era that saw the decline of the British Empire and upheaval in her family, including the messy divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana .

Public affection for the Queen had helped maintain support for the monarchy amid complaints in some quarters that she had outlived her usefulness. But Charles doesn’t command that kind of popularity.

“Charles can never replace her, you know,” said 31-year-old Londoner Mariam Sherwani.

Like many, she referred to Elizabeth as a grandmother figure. Others compared her to their mothers or their great-grandmothers.

But around the world, her passing revealed conflicting emotions about the nation and the institutions she represented.

In Ireland, some football fans cheered.

In India, once the ‘crown jewel’ of the British Empire, entrepreneur Dhiren Singh described his own personal sadness at his death, but added: ‘I don’t think we have room for kings and queens in the world today”.

For some, Elizabeth was a queen whose crown shone with shards of a magnificent 3,106-carat diamond mined from grim mines in southern Africa, a monarch who inherited an empire that resented them.

Across Africa, nations rejected British rule and chose independence during his first decade on the throne.

Associated Press writer Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, and AP reporters around the world contributed to this report.