King Charles III issues 'solemn pledge to serve' in moving tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

The address comes hours after the King and Camilla, Queen Consort were met by thousands of mourners as they arrived at Buckingham Palace

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King Charles III has "issued a solemn pledge to serve" in a moving tribute to Queen Elizabeth II during an address to the nation.

Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral Castle on Thursday afternoon aged 96.

During the address, the King said: “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.”

The monarch also paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, saying: “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.”

King Charles III
King Charles III

He said the “affection, admiration and respect” Queen Elizabeth II inspired “became the hallmark of her reign”, adding: “And, as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.”

The King said that 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 seventy years we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths."

He ended his address by saying: “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 arrived at Buckingham Palace earlier on Friday after returning from Balmoral with Camilla, Queen Consort.

The pair received heartfelt condolences from the public outside the Palace gates.

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort look at the tributes left for Queen Elizabeth outside Buckingham Palace
King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort look at the tributes left for Queen Elizabeth outside Buckingham Palace

The Queen Consort appeared close to tears at the end of the 15-minute walkabout after the couple shook every outstretched hand and acknowledged words of sympathy from the crowds.

Many people held their phones aloft to try to catch a glimpse of them as they greeted members of the crowd and looked at the tributes left for Queen Elizabeth II as the sun shone.

Colin Hennessy, 52, said: “It’s great to see the King.

“You can see he’s very emotional but he was very grateful to everybody here.

“He thanked as many people as he could as he walked by.”

The new King will be formally proclaimed monarch at a historic Accession Council in the State Apartments of St James’s Palace at 10am on Saturday.

A Principal Proclamation will be read in public for the first time by the Garter King of Arms in the open air from the balcony overlooking Friary Court at St James’s an hour later at 11am.

It will be followed by a flurry of Proclamations around the country, with the second one at City of London at the Royal Exchange at midday on Saturday, and further Proclamations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales at midday on Sunday.