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King makes historic televised address to mark death of the Queen

Photo by Yui Mok/PA

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The King has delivered a historic televised address to the nation, paying a poignant and moving tribute to his “darling Mama” in his first public broadcast as monarch.

Charles said of his “beloved mother” the late Elizabeth II: “We owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example”.

He added, acknowledging the sad loss of the Queen’s husband the Duke of Edinburgh just 17 months ago: “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’.”

The King pledged his whole life as service as the new sovereign just as the Queen did, saying: “That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today”.

And he used his speech to announce that he had created his son William the Prince of Wales, with Kate the Princess of Wales, and to “express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”, a symbol of his bid for reconciliation amid past troubles with the Sussexes.

He described it as a “time of change for my family” and paid tribute to his “darling wife” Camilla – calling her “my Queen Consort”.

He could, he said, “count on her loving help”, praising her by saying: “I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I have come to rely so much.”

The King, who was often accused of meddling through his lobbying as the Prince of Wales, also set out his changing role, as he steps away from his considerable charity work which shaped his life as the heir to the throne.

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

The monarch pre-recorded the lengthy speech, which was just under 1,000 words and lasted around nine-and-a-half minutes in the Blue Drawing Room of the royal residence in central London, and it was played out at 6pm on Friday.

The King, dressed in a sombre black suit, black tie and with a black and white checked handkerchief in his breast pocket, said: “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.

“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 spoke of the “deep sense of gratitude” for the Queen’s 70 years on the throne and told of her “profound personal commitment which defined her whole life”.

“Her dedication and devotion as Sovereign never wavered, through times of change and progress, through times of joy and celebration, and through times of sadness and loss,” the King said.

“In her life of service we saw that abiding love of tradition, together with that fearless embrace of progress, which make us great as Nations. The affection, admiration and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign.”

He told the nation how he shared “sense of loss, beyond measure, with you all”.

Charles shared his family’s perception of the Queen, saying how they would all testify to her qualities of “warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people”.

He offered the public his “most sincere and heartfelt thanks for your condolences and support”, saying the nation would come together at the Queen’s funeral in just over a week’s time.

The King ended his speech with a quote from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet.

As Hamlet dies in the play, Horatio says: “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Charles was sat at an antique polished desk in Buckingham Palace’s Blue Drawing Room, one of the grand state rooms, where the Queen would sometimes film her Christmas broadcasts.

On the desk was a framed photograph the King personally chose of his late mother the Queen, smiling broadly and wearing a vivid blue coat and matching hat decorated with a red flower.

A delicate posy of white sweet peas with sprigs of rosemary for remembrance stood in a silver vase, the base of which featured several small silver playful-looking corgis.

The ornament – a touching nod to the monarch’s love of her favourite dogs – was used by the Queen when she used to sit at the very same desk.

Charles was given a rapturous welcome – with kisses on the cheek and hand – as he greeted well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace after returning to London earlier in the day.

It was the new King’s first walkabout and encounter with the public since his historic accession and crowds lined up behind a barrier clamouring to greet him, smiling and taking photos of him on their phones.

The King turned to his duties as monarch despite his grief and held his first audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss.

He also gave the order that a period of “Royal Mourning” for the Queen will be observed from now until seven days after her funeral.

Royal salutes were fired with one round for every year of the Queen’s life on Friday at 1pm in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

In St Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Queen’s life of service was hailed “a rare jewel” and hundreds of mourners sang God Save the King, as Ms Truss joined around 2,000 members of the public for a service of prayer and reflection.

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