Charles and Camilla greeted the crowds as they arrived at Buckingham Palace

Charles III to be proclaimed king after vowing to ‘serve for life’

Charles and Camilla greet the gathering at Buckingham Palace – Copyright AFP Juan BARRETO

Danny Kemp and Max DELANEY

Britain’s Charles III will be formally proclaimed king in a ceremony on Saturday, a day after he swore in his first speech to his grieving subjects that he would emulate his “dear mother,” Queen Elizabeth II.

The 73-year-old automatically became monarch after the Queen’s death on Thursday, but the Accession Council’s ceremony at St James’s Palace early Saturday morning is a constitutional formality to recognize his sovereignty.

A pompous protocol with trumpets and a balcony proclamation is the latest part of a 10-day program of official mourning that will last even longer for members of the royal family, held across Britain ahead of the Queen’s funeral.

An emotional Charles set the tone for his reign in a televised address Friday, in which he hailed his mother’s “unwavering loyalty” during her record seven decades on the throne.

“The life of Queen Elizabeth was well lived, the promise made by fate was fulfilled, and she mourns her death very deeply. This promise of lifelong service I renew to all of you today,” he said.

The new king also named his eldest son and next heir Prince William, 40, the new Prince of Wales, while expressing his love for his youngest son Harry and daughter-in-law Meghan.

The move means that William’s wife Kate assumes the title of Princess of Wales, once held by his mother and Charles’ ex-wife, the late Princess Diana.

– Flower, cheers, kisses –

Crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace to mourn the Queen and wish Charles well, some shouting “God Save the King” as he greeted them on his return from Scotland on Friday.

The oldest monarch to assume the British throne has received flowers, greetings and even kisses after traveling from the Balmoral Sanctuary where his 96-year-old mother passed away peacefully.

Previously, church bells and ceremonial fireworks in honor of the deceased monarch have sounded across the United Kingdom as it struggles to come to terms with the death of the only monarch most have ever known.

Charles will be formally proclaimed king by the Accession Council, which includes other members of the royal family as well as political and religious figures, including Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William, Prime Minister Liz Truss and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The centuries-old meetings will be televised for the first time.

The Council will meet for the first time without Charles at 10:00 (09:00 GMT) at St. James’s Palace to proclaim him. He will then join him to formally declare himself king and sign the official papers.

The “Basic Proclamation” will be read to the public at 11:00 am from the balcony of St. James’s Palace, located next to Buckingham Palace, to the fanfare of three trumpeters.

It will then also be read in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

– “Insider” –

As Charles’ pre-recorded address was broadcast nationwide, dignitaries attended a memorial service for his mother at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the revamped national anthem “God Save the King” was officially played for the first time.

“Suddenly you feel like he’s on his own,” said Barbara Lewis, a west London pensioner who was among several hundred mourners outside the cathedral.

The new king’s adult life passed in the shadow of his mother’s record-breaking reign, which spanned a period of extraordinary change in Britain and around the world.

Her death drew heartfelt tributes from every corner of the globe.

Buckingham Palace has said that Charles and other members of the royal family will observe extended mourning from now until seven days after her funeral.

The date of the funeral, which will be attended by heads of state and government, has not yet been officially announced, but is expected to take place on Monday, September 19.

US President Joe Biden said he would attend. The Kremlin has said there will be no Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Her London palace has become a magnet for thousands of mourners, and the piled flowers are one of the many poignant signs of sincere reverence for her.

“She has been our monarch all my life,” said Joan Russell, a 55-year-old project leader from northeast London, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

– “Awesome Responsibility” –

Leading two days of tributes to the Queen in Parliament, Trouss, appointed by the late monarch only on Tuesday, offered the nation’s support to Charles as she recognized the “tremendous responsibility” that now rests on him.

Although the government has said organizations are not required to suspend activities during the 10-day mourning period, many do so out of respect.

The English Premier League has postponed all matches this weekend and rail and postal workers have suspended upcoming strikes due to wage hikes amid soaring inflation and skyrocketing energy prices sweeping the UK.

The Queen’s death comes as the government is trying to speed up emergency legislation to deal with the war-induced economic hardship that marked the beginning of her reign in 1952.

Elizabeth’s public appearances have become less frequent since she spent an unscheduled night in the hospital in October 2021.

Despite smiling, she was noticeably thinner and slouched in her latest official photos, taken on Tuesday, when she nominated Truss.

The new leader became the 15th prime minister of his reign, which began with Winston Churchill in 1952.

– Consistently popular –

Elizabeth’s body is expected to remain at Balmoral before being taken to Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh on Sunday.

From the Scottish capital, her coffin should go to London on Tuesday, where it will lie for several days.

Officials expect more than a million people to walk past a hearse at Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the UK Parliament complex, ahead of a televised funeral service in Westminster Abbey opposite.

The funeral will be a public holiday in the form of a National Day of Mourning.

Charles’s coronation, an elaborate ritual steeped in tradition and history, will take place in the same historical setting as it has for centuries, on a date to be set.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at the age of just 25 in a devastated post-war world dominated by politicians from Churchill to Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.

In the decades that followed, the last remnants of the vast British empire collapsed, and at home, Brexit shook the foundations of her kingdom.

Her family endured a series of scandals and Diana’s death in a car accident in Paris in 1997, to which she was initially considered a bad reaction.

But throughout all the time she remained unfailingly popular and was the head of state not only of the United Kingdom, but also of 14 former British colonies, including Australia and Canada.

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