King Charles III is officially the reigning monarch of the U.K. and Commonwealth, following a historic, two-part accession council meeting on Saturday.
The 73-year-old king — his wife, Queen Consort Camilla at his side — appeared at the State Apartments of St. James’ Palace at 10 a.m. London time, addressing the council on the death last week of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who had reigned over 70 years.
He said, in part, “I know how deeply you and the entire nation and I think I may say the whole world sympathizes with me in the irreparable loss we have all suffered. It is the greatest consolation to me to know of the sympathy expressed by so many to my sister and my brothers and as such overwhelming affection and support should be extended to our whole family in our loss. To all of us as a family.”
He went on to say, “My mother’s reign was unequaled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve we give thanks for this most faithful life. I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me.”
“In taking up these responsibilities I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands, and of the commonwealth realms and territories across the world. In this purpose, I know that I shall be upheld by the affection and loyalty of the peoples whose sovereign I have been called upon to be, and in the discharge of these duties, I will be guided by the council of their elected parliaments,” he added.
“In all this, I am profoundly encouraged by the constant support of my beloved wife. I take this opportunity to confirm my willingness and intention to continue the tradition of surrendering the hereditary revenues, including the crown estate to the government for the benefit of all in return for the sovereign grant which supports my official duties as head of state and head of nation. In carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me, to which I dedicate what remains to me of my life. I pray for the guidance and help of almighty God.”
The historic moment was not without a humorous viral element, as the cameras caught Charles — seemingly frustrated — “furiously” gesturing to an aide to remove a pen box from his desk while signing the proclamation.
Later on Saturday, Charles will participate in what is called the principal proclamation, from a balcony over Friary Court at St. James’ Palace. More proclamations will be read at London’s Royal Exchange at noon, along with proclamations read in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales the following day.
Flags are flying at full-mast for the day, and will return to half-mast in accordance with the nation’s mourning procedures in light of Elizabeth’s passing.