'God save the King': Charles III proclaimed Britain's monarch in historic ceremony

Charles then made his proclamation speech, which began with the 'most sorrowful duty' to announce the death of Queen Elizabeth II, 'an example of lifelong love and selfless service.'

Published: 10th September 2022 02:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th September 2022 03:51 PM   |  A+A-

From left, Britain's Prince William, Camilla, the Queen Consort and King Charles III, before Privy Council members in the Throne Room at St James's Palace, London. (Photo | AP)


LONDON: King Charles III pledged to follow the "inspiring example" of his mother, late Queen Elizabeth II, as he was proclaimed Britain's new monarch on Saturday in a historic ceremony of the Accession Council that was televised for the first time in history.

"God save the King" were the words with which those gathered reaffirmed the proclamation made by the clerk of the council.

Charles then made his proclamation speech, which began with the "most sorrowful duty" to announce the death of Queen Elizabeth II, "an example of lifelong love and selfless service."

"My mother's reign was unequalled in its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve we give thanks for this most faithful life," said King Charles III.

"In taking up these responsibilities I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands, and of the Commonwealth realms and territories across the world," he said.

The throne had passed to the 73-year-old former Prince of Wales following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday and Saturday's ceremony marked his formal declaration and oath-taking at St.

James's Palace in London.

King Charles was joined by his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, and his son and heir Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, who added their signatures to the formal proclamation documents.

Charles confirmed the tradition of surrendering all revenues and the Crown Estate to the country in return for the Sovereign Grant that covers royal costs in the UK.

The King had travelled back from Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Friday, where the Queen's health deteriorated and she breathed her last.

Flags lowered atop the palace in mourning for the late Queen were brought back up to full mast after the Accession Council proclamation, which followed a wave of further proclamations across the UK to go into Sunday, when flags will return to half-mast in a state of mourning for the Queen.

"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," Charles said in his first televised address as King on Friday evening.

"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'," he said.

Soon after a Principal Proclamation was read in public for the first time by the Garter King of Arms from the balcony overlooking Friary Court at St James's Palace, accompanied by a 41-gun salute fired by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Hyde Park in London.

The Privy Council, which includes politicians, senior members of the clergy and Supreme Court justices, first gathered without the King to proclaim the new monarch and arrange business relating to the proclamation.

Following the proclamation, King Charles III held his first Privy Council meeting and made his personal declaration to "assume the duties and responsibilities of sovereignty" and follow in the footsteps of his late mother.

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On Friday, the King held his first audience with British Prime Minister Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace, soon after he was greeted with applause and cheers by large crowds gathered at the palace gates in mourning for the Queen and to catch a glimpse of the new monarch and his Queen Consort.

"It was so touching to see so many people. It's a moment I'd been dreading, but one must try and keep going," Charles was heard saying to Truss, in a brief clip released of his first audience as the Prime Minister expressed her condolences.

While formal details are to be released by Buckingham Palace, it is expected that the Queen will lie in state at Westminster Hall in London for the public to pay their respects.

In the coming days, the Queen's coffin will depart her Balmoral estate for the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh " the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

From here, it will be taken in procession to St. Giles' Cathedral in the city, where the Queen will lie at rest, allowing the public to view her coffin.

The coffin will then move to London, ready for lying in state for around four days before her funeral.

The nation is already wondering how King Charles III will reign and whether his monarchy will depart from the traditions of his mother.

If his first full day on the throne is any indication, Charles seemed ready to chart at least a slightly different course.

When Charles traveled to Buckingham Palace for the first time as the new king Friday, his limousine snaked through a sea of spectators then stopped short of the palace gates before he got out and shook hands with well-wishers.

Charles looked more like a US president on the campaign trail than the latest steward of a 1,000-year-old hereditary monarchy.

ALSO READ | Baptism of fire as UK PM Liz Truss wrestles with Queen Elizabeth's death

It's not that Queen Elizabeth II didn't meet her subjects.

She did, often.

But this felt different, a bit less formal, a bit more relaxed and personal.

Charles spent almost 10 minutes greeting people pressed up against the crowd-control barriers, smiling, waving, accepting condolences and the occasional bouquet of flowers as the audience broke out in a chorus of 'God Save the King.'

After inspecting the tributes to his mother lined up outside the palace, he waved once more and walked through the gates with Camilla, the Queen Consort.

"It was impressive, touching, a good move to come out to the crowds," said Ammar Al-Baldawi, 64, a retiree from Hertfordshire who was among the throngs outside the palace.

"I think that's where the royal family needs to communicate with the people now."

Charles' efforts to engage with the public more intimately reflect the fact that he needs their support.

There are difficult issues ahead, most pressingly how the 73-year-old king will carry out his role as head of state.

The laws and traditions that govern Britain's constitutional monarchy dictate that the sovereign must stay out of partisan politics, but Charles has spent much of his adult life speaking out on issues that are important to him, particularly the environment.

His words have caused friction with politicians and business leaders who accused the then-Prince of Wales of meddling in issues on which he should have remained silent.

The question is whether Charles will follow his mother's example and muffle his personal opinions now that he is king, or use his new platform to reach a broader audience.

In his first speech as monarch, Charles sought to put his critics at ease.

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"My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities,'' he said.

"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."

Ed Owens, a historian and author of "The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53," said that while Charles will tread a careful path, it's unlikely he will suddenly stop talking about climate change and the environment, issues where there is a broad consensus about the urgent need for action.

"To not do so would not be true to the image that he has until this moment developed," Owens said.

John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, said he hopes Charles will continue speaking out about climate change because it is a universal issue that does not involve ideology.

Kerry was in Scotland to meet with the Prince of Wales this week, but the session was canceled when the queen died.

"It doesn't mean he's involved in the daily broil of politics or speaking for a specific piece of legislation," Kerry told the BBC.

"But I can't imagine him not, feeling compelled to use the important role of the monarch, with all the knowledge he has about it, to speak out and urge the world to do the things the world needs to do."

Constitutional lawyers have debated for years whether Charles has pushed the boundaries of conventions designed to keep the monarchy out of the political fray.

His so-called Black Spider Memos, named for his spidery handwriting, to government ministers have been cited as evidence that he wouldn't be neutral in his dealings with Parliament.

The debate has also spilled over into fiction.

In the 2014 play "King Charles III," playwright Mike Bartlett imagines the new king, uncertain of his powers and moved by his conscience, causing a constitutional crisis by refusing to sign a new law restricting press freedom.

It is an illustration of the tensions inherent in a system that evolved from an absolute monarchy to one in which the sovereign plays a largely ceremonial role.

While Britain's unwritten constitution requires that legislation must receive royal assent before it becomes law, this is considered a formality that the monarch cannot refuse.

In an interview for a 2018 documentary broadcast on his 70th birthday, Charles said he would behave differently when he became king because the monarch has a different role than the Prince of Wales.

Even so, he questioned the criticism he has received over the years.

"I've always been intrigued if it's meddling to worry about the inner cities, as I did 40 years ago, and what was happening or not happening there, the conditions in which people were living," he wondered.

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"If that's meddling, I'm very proud of it."

On another issue facing the new king, Charles has said clearly that he intends to reduce the number of working royals and cut expenses as he seeks to ensure the monarchy better represents modern Britain.

UK media praise Charles III's 'moving' speech

Charles III's first full day as king dominated Britain's newspapers on Saturday, with front pages dedicated to his emotional tribute to his "darling mama".

Charles set the tone for his reign in his maiden televised address on Friday, in which he hailed Queen Elizabeth II's "unswerving devotion" during her record-breaking seven decades on the throne.

His debut performance earned praise from the media, particularly the moment when, choking back tears, he bade farewell to his late mother, who died on Thursday.

The line "to my darling Mama, thank you," headlined the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Sun, and Daily Star.

The Daily Express led with the Shakespeare quote from Charles that followed, in which he implored: "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

The new monarch looking pensive as he arrived at Buckingham Palace for the first time as king made the front page image on the Independent, Guardian and The Times, which also carried the words "God Save the King".

They focussed on Charles' commitment to serve the country with "loyalty, respect and love".

The Telegraph's editorial praised the king's "warm understanding", and urged Britons to "cherish" the upcoming ritualistic displays.

"As King Charles III addressed the nation last night, it was with a warm understanding of what his people yearned to hear: fierce love and sharp grief for Queen Elizabeth II; profound understanding of his now awesome responsibility; an expression of the firm faith that will guide him and a solemn dedication to the duty that is now his," it read.

"The coming weeks are also a glorious reminder that the country she led is as steadfast as she (Elizabeth II).

"Such ritual is a vital expression of a constitution not written in some dusty, sacred text, but living and breathing and shaped every day by those who inhabit its great offices: palace, Parliament, people," it added.

The Times focused on the king's pledge to serve his subjects.

"Some have voiced fears that he will be a meddlesome monarch, prone to interfering in politics", said its analysis.

"To them he emphasised how he would respect 'the precious traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government' and 'uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation'."

Popular tabloid The Sun said the speech had calmed some fears that Charles would not be able to fill the void created by the passing of Elizabeth II.

"Charles, with his moving first speech, has given us every confidence he will fill that with wisdom, skill and compassion," said its editorial.

"We have occasionally worried he might be an activist King, a risk to our monarchy's future. But no longer," it added.

(With AP and AFP Inputs)


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