King Charles III pledges to serve ‘with loyalty, respect and love’

London: King Charles III has paid a heartfelt tribute to his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, vowing to serve his subjects with “loyalty, respect and love” as she had done for her 70 years on the throne.

In a historic first address to the nation on television, Charles thanked the Queen for her devotion to her family and to the 2.5 billion people – out of 7.9 billion globally – who live in the Commonwealth’s 56 countries.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, aged 96, triggering an outpouring of emotion throughout Britain and around the world.

Charles, who in remarkable scenes was greeted with cheers of “God Save the King” as mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace on Friday, used the speech to take over from his mother’s pledge of a life in service. He made special mention of his love for his family, including offering an olive branch to Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, after almost two years of tensions.

In his nine-minute message, broadcast at 6pm London time (3am AEST), Charles reflected on the promise his mother made in 1947, aged 21, to devote her life to the service of her people.

“That was more than a promise: it was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty,” he 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.

“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 endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life.”

Charles, 73, has been a life-long campaigner on the environment and he has been increasingly outspoken over climate change, sustainability, architecture and planning.

Earlier this year, The Times reported he has expressed his displeasure at the British government’s policy of resettling asylum seekers in Rwanda.

King Charles III, and Camilla, the Queen Consort, wave to the crowd outside Buckingham Palace.Credit:PA

“My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities,” he said. “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 he had made his eldest son William, the new Prince of Wales, the title that had been his for decades and one traditionally held by the heir to the throne.

William’s wife, Catherine, becomes Princess of Wales, a title last held by the late Princess Diana.

“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 centre ground where vital help can be given,” Charles said.

After the dramatic fallout from Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit royal duties and move to the United States, Charles made special mention of the pair in a sign he wants to put their personal difference behind him.

The King was reportedly left saddened after Meghan gave an interview to US magazine The Cut last month, suggesting that Harry had “lost” his father over the family feud.

Harry’s relationship with his father and brother has been described by palace insiders as “severely strained”. In 2021, he blasted the way Charles had brought him up, telling a podcast he took his family to the US to “break the cycle of pain”.

The King said he wished to “express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”.

“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 our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort,” he said.

The UK has entered a period of national mourning for the Queen, with flags flying at half-mast and memorials taking place.

Buckingham Palace announced that it was the King’s wish that members of the royal household observe a period of mourning until seven days after the funeral – the date of which has not yet been confirmed.

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