‘I Shall Endeavor To Serve You’: Charles Praises Elizabeth In First Speech As King

King Charles III delivered his first address to the world on Friday, paying tribute to his mother and announcing changes to the royal family.

Speaking from Buckingham Palace in London on Friday at 6 p.m. local time in a pre-recorded speech, Charles sought to “pay tribute to my mother’s memory and honor her life of service.” Queen Elizabeth II, he said, brought an “abiding love of tradition together with that fearless embrace of progress, which makes us great as nations.”

“Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing,” he said, adding that, after over 70 years on the throne, “she was a constant presence in a changing world.”

He mentioned her famous pledge on her 21st birthday, in 1947 from Cape Town, South Africa, that her “whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.” Charles said “that was more than a promise. It was a profound personal commitment, which defined her whole life.”

Turning to himself, Charles “renewed” her vow and made a declaration of his own. “I too now solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” he said. “Whether you may live in the United Kingdom or in the realms and territories across the world and whatever may be your background and beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you,” echoing his mother’s pledge.

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Charles briefly spoke of the Church of England, of which he is now the supreme governor. “The role and the duties of the monarchy also remain, as does the sovereign’s relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England – the church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted.”

He spoke of the royal family, whose makeup has now changed following his ascension to the throne. Of his wife, Camila, he said that “in recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my queen consort.”

The title gives Camila the style of “Majesty,” though she will not exercise any constitutional power. In February, on her Platinum Jubilee on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II publicly stated her wish for Camila to become queen consort.

Previously, Camila had not used the feminine courtesy title “Princess of Wales” out of respect for the memory of Charles’ first wife, Diana, who had last used it.

Charles’s speech included the major announcement that Prince William, his heir apparent, would immediately be granted the title “Prince of Wales,” making his wife, Catherine, the first Princess of Wales since Diana. William became the Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay automatically upon becoming heir apparent when Charles ascended the throne.

Though the title is traditionally granted to the monarch’s heir, it is not usually conferred immediately. Charles gained it in 1958, six years after his mother became queen. He said that William and Catherine “would continue to inspire and lead our national conversations.”

Charles further expressed his “love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas,” and said that the Queen’s funeral “would take place in a week’s time.”

Finishing his address, he said, “as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you.”

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