King Charles III, in first address, vows `lifelong service’

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III vowed in his first speech as monarch Friday to carry on Queen Elizabeth II's “lifelong service” with his own modernizing stamp, as Britain entered an uncertain new age under a new sovereign. Around the world, the queen's exceptional reign was commemorated, celebrated and debated.

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LONDON (AP) — King Charles III vowed in his first speech as monarch Friday to carry on Queen Elizabeth II’s “lifelong service” with his own modernizing stamp, as Britain entered an uncertain new age under a new sovereign. Around the world, the queen’s exceptional reign was commemorated, celebrated and debated.

Charles, who spent much of his 73 years preparing for the role of king, addressed a nation grieving the only British monarch most people alive today had ever known. He takes the throne in an era of unease for both his country and the monarchy itself.

He spoke of his “profound sorrow” over the death of his mother, calling her “an inspiration and example to me and to all my family.”

Britain's King Charles III delivers his address to the nation and the Commonwealth from Buckingham Palace, London, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday. (Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP)

“That promise of lifelong service I renew to all today,” he said in the 9 1/2-minute address, recorded earlier in the day and delivered with a framed photo of the queen on a desk in front of him.

“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,” he said.

The king’s speech was broadcast on television and streamed at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where some 2,000 people attended a service of remembrance for the queen. They included Prime Minister Liz Truss and officials in her government, along with hundreds of members of the public who lined up for tickets.

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 after an unprecedented 70 years on the throne.

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.

The widespread admiration for Elizabeth in Britain and across its former colonies was occasionally mixed with scorn for the institution and the imperial history she symbolized.

Britain's King Charles III, left, and Camilla, the Queen Consort, walk past floral tributes left outside Buckingham Palace following Thursday's death of Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. King Charles III, who spent much of his 73 years preparing for the role, planned to meet with the prime minister and address a nation grieving the only British monarch most of the world had known. He takes the throne in an era of uncertainty for both his country and the monarchy itself. (Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP)

Charles, who became the monarch immediately upon his mother’s death, will be formally proclaimed king at a ceremony on Saturday. He is expected to tour the United Kingdom in the coming days.

The queen’s coffin will be brought to London, where she will lie in state before a funeral at Westminster Abbey, expected around Sept. 19.

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.

People watch a broadcast of Britain's King Charles III first address to the nation as the new King following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday Sept. 8, 2022, after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

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.

In his speech, Charles looked to both the past — noting his mother’s unwavering “dedication and devotion as sovereign” — and the future, seeking to strike a reassuring note of constancy while signaling that his will be a 21st-century monarchy.

He reflected on how the country had changed dramatically during the queen’s reign into a society “of many cultures and many faiths,” and pledged to serve people in Britain and the 14 other countries where he is king “whatever may be your background or beliefs.”

The lifelong environmentalist said he was confident work on “the issues for which I care so deeply” would “go on in the trusted hands of others.”

He spoke of his son Prince William, now heir to the throne and formally given the title that Charles long held, Prince of Wales. William and his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales, will “continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground where vital help can be given,” Charles said, referring to the couple’s work on homelessness, mental health and other issues.

He also struck a note of reconciliation after a raw family rift when he said, “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”

People gather outside Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, after the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was announced. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Prince Harry and wife Meghan have been in a tense relationship with the royal family since they stepped away from their official duties and left the country in 2020, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the biracial American actress.

As the second Elizabethan Age came to a close, throngs of people arrived all day to grieve together and lay flowers outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.

Finance worker 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 momentous change that is going to happen,” she said. “I’m trying to hold it together today.”

FILE - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II silhouetted during welcoming ceremonies at the airport in Barbados around March 8, 1989. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, has died. She was 96. Buckingham Palace made the announcement in a statement on Thursday Sept. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Peter Bregg, File)

Many sporting and cultural events were canceled as a mark of respect, and some businesses — including Selfridges department store and the Legoland amusement park — shut their doors. The Bank of England postponed its meeting by a week.

Elizabeth was Britain’s longest-reigning 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.

The public’s affection for the queen had helped sustain support for the monarchy amid complaints in some quarters that it had outlived its usefulness. But Charles does not 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 great-grandmothers.

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

A picture of Queen Elizabeth sits on a bus stop in London, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday Sept. 8, 2022, after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

In Ireland, some soccer fans cheered.

For some, Elizabeth was a queen whose coronation glittered with shards of a stunning 3,106-carat diamond pulled from grim southern African mines, a monarch who inherited an empire they resented. Across Africa, nations rejected British rule and chose independence in her first decade on the throne.

In India, once the “jewel in the crown” of the British empire, entrepreneur Dhiren Singh described his own personal sadness at her death, but added: “I do not think we have any place for kings and queens in today’s world.”

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

A flag flaps in the wind at half staff on Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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Follow AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

The King’s Speech

Here is King Charles III’s’ first speech as king in full:

“I speak to you today 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; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example.

“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.

Here is King Charles III’s’ first speech as king in full:

“I speak to you today 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; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example.

“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.

“Alongside the personal grief that all my family are 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 waivered, 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 make us great as Nations. The affection, admiration and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign.

“And, as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humor and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.

“I pay tribute to my Mother’s memory and I honor her life of service. I know that her death 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 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 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 pledge 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 endeavor 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 have 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 center 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 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.’”

 

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