King Charles III was officially proclaimed monarch on Saturday in an ancient ceremony that involved blaring trumpets, gun salutes and the reading of public announcements.
Although Charles technically became the King the moment Queen Elizabeth died on Thursday, tradition dictates that Britain’s Accession Council must formally gather to announce the new monarch. The council is made up of members of the Royal Family, including Camilla, the Queen Consort; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and 200 current and former senior politicians. Among those attending were Prime Minister Liz Truss and all of her six predecessors.
During the hour-long ceremony, King Charles pledged to preserve the Church of Scotland. He also made a declaration to the council, announcing the death of his mother and vowing to uphold “the heavy responsibilities of sovereignty, which have now passed to me.”
“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 throughout the world,” he said.
The ceremony ended with the Garter Principal King of Arms, David Vines White, reading a proclamation from the balcony of St. James’s Palace.
“Whereas it has pleased almighty God to call to his mercy our late sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth II of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the crown of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to Prince Charles Philip Arthur George,” he stated.
The reading was followed by a 62-round gun salute at the Tower of London and shouts of “three cheers for his majesty” by the guardsmen. By tradition, a similar proclamation was read again at the City of London, the historic centre of London, as well as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Crowds gathered outside St. James’s Palace for hours before the ceremony in the hope of catching a glimpse of the many dignitaries. There was applause, cheers and an impromptu singing of “God Save the King” after the proclamation.
“This is a once a life time thing,” said Nina Trylska, 28, who was among the thousands of people standing outside the palace.
Ms. Trylska said she thought King Charles “would do a good job” but acknowledged that many of her friends viewed the monarchy as outdated. She hopes that he might be able to set an example to win over the naysayers.
“I think he’ll slim down monarchy. And that may make some people feel a little less anti-monarchy and maybe see it in a new light,” she said.
Her mother, Jill, was less convinced. She said the Queen was the glue that kept the realms and the Commonwealth together, and that now that she is gone, some countries will likely become republics.
“I think that bond is broken without the Queen,” she said. “And I think there will be announcements by countries not to have the monarchy and I think Charles will be up to it. He’ll be fine with it.”
William, the Prince of Wales, also offered his first comments on the death of his grandmother.
“She was by my side at my happiest moments. And she was by my side during the saddest days of my life. I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real,” he said in a statement released by Kensington Palace.
“My grandmother famously said that grief was the price we pay for love. All of the sadness we will feel in the coming weeks will be testament to the love we felt for our extraordinary Queen. I will honour her memory by supporting my father, The King, in every way I can.”
The Prince and Princess of Wales joined the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in meeting well-wishers outside Windsor Castle on Saturday. Media reports indicated that William asked his brother, Harry, to join the walkabout. It’s the first time both couples have been seen together since Commonwealth Day on March 9, 2020.
The new monarch has had little time to privately mourn the death of his mother. After Saturday’s ceremony, he held meetings with Prime Minister Truss as well as opposition party leaders. He’ll also travel to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland next week to be received as the King.
Buckingham Palace also announced on Saturday that the Queen’s funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday, Sept. 19, at 11 a.m. local time.
The Queen’s coffin is currently in Balmoral Castle where she died. The coffin will travel to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Sunday and rest in the throne room until Monday afternoon, when there will be a service at St. Giles’ Cathedral. King Charles and other members of the Royal Family will attend the service.
The coffin will remain in the cathedral for a day “to allow the people of Scotland to pay their respects,” officials said.
On Tuesday, the Queen’s coffin will be flown to London and taken to Buckingham Palace. The following day it will move to Westminster Hall, the oldest building in the parliamentary estate, where the Queen will lie in state until the morning of the funeral.
“During the Lying-in-State, members of the public will have the opportunity to visit Westminster Hall to pay their respects to The Queen,” the palace said.
After the funeral, the coffin will travel to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen will be interred.
Thousands of people converged on Buckingham Palace on Saturday as officials began lining fences along The Mall in preparation for the Queen’s funeral and commemoration services. The crowds had gotten so large by the afternoon that underground service to the nearest station had to be reduced in order to manage the flow of people.
A large area in nearby Green Park has also been designated for floral tributes and was lined with rows of bouquets, hand-written notes, photographs and drawings. One drawing showed the Queen atop Big Ben with the caption, “Rest in Peace Queen Kong.” Others depicted the Queen walking with Paddington Bear and some simply said, “Thank you.”
“It’s the end of an era,” said Lottie Crabb, 27, who lives in London. “I don’t support all elements of the Royal Family, but I support Charles.”
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