King Charles III said on Friday that his mother Queen Elizabeth’s 96 years demonstrated “a life well lived, a promise with a destiny kept”, and pledged in his first speech as king to serve his people as she did.
The 73-year-old new monarch, whose speech aired nearly 24 hours after his mother’s death was announced, also named his son and heir, Prince William, Prince of Wales, a title usually held by the male heir to the throne, as well as his successor as Duke of Cornwall, assuming responsibilities “which I have borne for more than five decades”.
The King has declared William’s wife Catherine, currently Duchess of Cambridge, to become Princess of Wales, a title previously held by Charles’ first wife, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997, about a year after their divorce.
But the monarch did not report any new roles for her younger son and US-born daughter-in-law, simply saying, “I express my love to [Prince] Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.
The bulk of Charles’ nine-minute speech, recorded at Buckingham Palace after returning from Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where he and Queen Consort Camilla were at Elizabeth’s bedside, centered on the woman he called ” my darling mum’, whose 70-year reign makes him the longest-serving heir in British history.
“Throughout her life, Her Majesty the Queen, my beloved mother, has been an inspiration, an example to me and to all my family,” said the king, dressed in a black suit, a white shirt and a black striped tie. “And we owe her the most sincere debt a family can owe to her mother for her love, her affection, her guidance, her understanding and her example.”
The monarch observed: “When the Queen ascended the throne, Britain and the world were still dealing with the deprivations and consequences of the Second World War and still living by the conventions of old times. Over the past 70 years we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many religions.
Charles said he understood “the role and duties of the monarchy also remain, as does the sovereign’s special relationship and responsibility to the Church of England”, where he will now serve as “supreme governor”. Charles will also inherit the title Defender of the Faith, a role he previously questioned in a TV interview.
Reflecting on the transformation that took place on Thursday afternoon, Charles said: “My life is of course going to change. As I take on my new responsibilities, it will no longer be possible for me to devote so much of my time and energy to charities on issues that are so close to my heart. But I know that this important work will continue in the trusted hands of others. Some of the causes and charities that Charles has championed over the years include the environment, sustainability education and architecture.
He urged his listeners to “remember and draw strength from the light” of the late Queen’s example. He said he was grateful for the expressions of sympathy and support, noting “they mean more to me than I can ever express.”
Concluding the first initial remarks from a king since his grandfather George VI’s famous radio address in 1936, Charles addressed the woman he now follows as monarch.
“To my darling mum,” he said in an emotionally charged voice, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late dad, “I just want to say this: thank you. Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and the family of nations. You have served so diligently all these years. May flights of angels sing your rest.