King Charles makes Dunfermline a city in move that would 'gladden queen's heart'

New monarch looks upbeat for first official engagement since mourning period ended

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Britain’s King Charles III has been greeted by exuberant crowds in Dunfermline, Scotland, for his first official engagement since the ceremonies surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

He offered his “warmest congratulations” to Scotland’s newest city and said conferring the honour on Dunfermline in Fife would “gladden my dear mother’s heart”.

He said he had been “delighted” when the announcement of city status was made in May and spoke of his mother’s “deep love for Scotland”, describing it as “one of the foundations of her life”.

The monarch, 73, was on Monday accompanied by his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, 75, on a trip to confer city status on the former town in Fife as part of the late queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.

The royal couple were welcomed by cheering fans. Community groups, including a local pipe band, and schoolchildren packed the streets surrounding the City Chambers to catch a glimpse of the king.

He waved at the crowds before heading into the building to attend an official council meeting where he made a speech.

The king, wearing a kilt, formally declared Dunfermline a city, saying he was “delighted” to do so.

He said he hoped people living in the area would feel a “real sense of pride in this new chapter”.

The queen died at Balmoral Castle, her retreat in the Scottish Highlands, on September 8.

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla speak to royal fans after arriving in Dunfermline. AP

The king highlighted the city’s “immense significance” in Scottish history as the birthplace of entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Dunfermline is also the “burial place of kings and queens”, he noted, with Robert the Bruce, who led Scotland in a war against England in the 1300s, buried in the abbey there.

But the new king also spoke of the community, adding: “It is my hope that all those who live in, or who hail from, this very special place will feel a real sense of pride at this latest chapter in our rich history, and that this new distinction will not merely burnish the legacy of the past but will also brighten the prospect of our future.

“That would, I know, gladden my dear mother’s heart, as it certainly gladdens mine.”

Hundreds of locals turned out to greet the royal couple, with the sovereign telling them: “As you celebrate your well-deserved status as Scotland’s new city, I can only offer my warmest congratulations, and my heartfelt wishes for the years to come.”

After the ceremony, the king and queen consort were due to visit Dunfermline Abbey to mark its 950th anniversary, and meet representatives from Historic Scotland to learn about the history of the local area and conservation of the site.

Eight places have attained city status as part of the late queen’s 70th anniversary of ascending the throne.

Dunfermline’s bid was based on its heritage and historic status as an ancient seat of royal power, but also as one of the fastest-growing towns in Europe.

Bill Henderson, 71, was one of the many locals who had waited patiently for the royals’ arrival.

“It’s a historic event,” he said. “I was born just before the queen came to the throne, so she’s been my monarch my whole life. It’s just exciting.”

Mr Henderson said the occasion was made even more special because King Charles I was born in Dunfermline.

Teacher Carol Williams, 52, said it was “such an honour” for her community to host the new king’s first official engagement after taking over from his mother at the helm of the monarchy.

The king and his wife were due to host a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh later on Monday to celebrate British South Asian communities.

They were to meet between 200 and 300 guests of British Indian, Pakistani, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Maldivian heritage from across the UK. The gathering will recognise the contribution many from these communities have made to the National Health Service, arts, media, education, business and the Armed Forces.

Throughout his years as heir to the throne, the then-prince was known for reaching out to people from various faiths and backgrounds in Britain.

The king will also hold an investiture ceremony for a small group of local people, his first as head of the UK’s royal family.

King Charles III through the years - in pictures

Updated: October 03, 2022, 3:14 PM
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