King Charles III's first 'sorrowful' address to nation heard around the world

To his 'darling mama' Queen Elizabeth, UK ruler asks that 'crowds of angels sing thee to thy rest'

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King Charles III expressed his profound sorrow at the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and vowed to continue the queen’s lifelong service, with his reign focused on respecting the constitutional principles that underpin the British monarchy.

In his first direct broadcast since his 96-year-old mother died on Thursday, the British king announced his heir, William, would be Prince of Wales and expressed his love for his second son, Prince Harry, and wife Meghan, as the couple build their lives overseas.

“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," he said from Buckingham Palace.

“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.

King Charles pledged to "uphold constitutional principles" for rest of his life, something that is closely watched in a country where he is known for his strong views.

“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.

He added that he would show his subjects "loyalty, respect and love" and noted the changes the country has undergone since the last time a new monarch acceded 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," he said.

"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 73-year-old king also said it was time of change for his family, speaking of how "my life will change" as well as the lives of his children and grandchildren.

“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 said.

With sadness, he said there would no longer be the time and energy to devote himself to the charities and issues that he cares so deeply about.

The new ruler paid tribute to his wife, Camilla, now the queen consort, and her steadfast devotion to duty.

And he was careful to acknowledge his son, Prince Harry, who has married and lives in the US with his wife, Meghan.

“I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas," he said.

After spending time at the Balmoral estate where the queen died, King Charles walked up to Buckingham Palace on Friday and greeted the grieving crowds.

Many people held their phones aloft to try to catch a glimpse of the king and queen as they greeted well-wishers and looked at the tributes left for his late mother. Film director Raynald Leconte, 47, who is from New York, said he was lucky enough to speak to the pair.

"It was quite a moment," he said. "I said, 'condolences'. He said, 'really, really thank you very much'.

"And to his wife, I wished her good luck and she said, 'thank you very much'.

"I think she said, 'I'll need it'."

Mechanic Colin Hennessy, 52, said it was great to see the king and his queen consort.

"You can see he's very emotional but he was very grateful to everybody here," he said. "He thanked as many people as he could as he walked by."

Ammar Al Baldawi, 64, a retiree, said the family was right to reach out.

"It was impressive, touching, a good move to come out to the crowds," he said. "I think that's where the royal family needs to communicate with the people now.

"These are true loyalists here and it's nice to see him back in post, taking charge of the family and the crown, which is reassuring.

"Just seeing a glimpse of him gives you the sense we were there at that moment.

"I'm sure he wants to be on his own to think about his mother but he's doing his duty."

As King Charles took on his mother's mantle, he expressed his gratitude to the late queen.

“In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example," he said. “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.”

Updated: September 12, 2022, 7:25 AM