King Charles III

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The new monarch opens up about mourning and what’s next for the royal family.

A day after Queen Elizabeth II’s historic reign came to an end following 70 years on the throne, the United Kingdom’s new monarch spoke to his subjects for the first time on Friday.

The Queen’s son, who we formerly knew as Prince Charles, is now King Charles III, and his ascension to head of state is being carefully choreographed according to a strict and closely-held protocol that’s been in place for years as the country quietly prepared for Elizabeth’s eventual death. Now that the transition is in full effect, Charles delivered a pre-recorded address in which he spoke about his mother’s legacy, his wishes for the rest of his family (including the new Queen Consort, Camilla Parker Bowles, and his sons William and Harry), and how he’s feeling as he takes on the weighty responsibilities of the crown.

Watch the full speech or read the transcript of Charles’s comments below.

Throughout her life, Her Majesty the Queen, my beloved mother, was an inspiration — an 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’s 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. Alongside the personal grief that all my family are feeling, we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in all the countries where the Queen was head of state, in the Commonwealth, and across the world, a deep sense of gratitude for the more than 70 years in which my mother, as Queen, served the people of so many nations.

In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to the Commonwealth to devote her life, whether it be short or long, to the service of her peoples. That was more than a promise. It was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty. 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.

In her life of service, we saw that abiding love of tradition together with that fearless embrace the progress, which makes us great as nations. The affection, admiration, and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign. And as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humor, and an unerring ability, always, to see the best in people. I pay tribute to my mother’s memory and I honor her life of service. I know that her death brings great sadness to so many of you. And I share that sense of loss beyond measure with you all.

When the Queen came to the throne, Britain and the world were still coping with the privations and aftermath of the second World War and still living by the conventions of earlier times. In the course of the last 70 years, we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths. The institutions of the state have changed in turn. But through all changes and challenges, our nation and the wider family of realms — of whose talents, traditions, and achievements I am so inexpressibly proud — have prospered and flourished. Our values have remained and must remain constant.

The role and the duties of monarchy also remain, as does the sovereign’s particular relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England — the church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted. In that faith and the values it inspires, I have been brought up to cherish your sense of duty to others and to hold in the greatest respect, the precious traditions, freedoms, and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government.

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. And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect, and love, as I have throughout my life. 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 that trusted hands of others.

This is also a time of change for my family. I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla. In recognition of her own loyal public service since I married 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort. 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.

As my heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me. He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall, which I have undertaken for more than five decades. Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, the country whose title I’ve been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty. With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the center ground, where vital help can be given.

I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.

In a little over a week’s time, we will come together as a nation, as a Commonwealth, and indeed a global community to lay my beloved mother to rest. In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example. On behalf of all my family, I can only offer the most sincere and heartfelt thanks for your condolences and support. They mean more to me than I can ever possibly express. 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.

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