King Charles III, in a televised address to a nation on Friday, said he feels "profound sorrow" over the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and is vowing to carry on her "lifelong service" to the nation.
Charles is making his first address to the nation as monarch Friday. He became king on Thursday after the queen's death. "That promise of lifelong service I renew to all today," he said. He delivered the address with a framed photo on the queen on a desk.
The death of the queen, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and a towering presence on the world stage for 70 years, has brought messages of condolences from around the world.
His speech was broadcast on television and streamed at St. Paul's Cathedral, where some 2,000 people were attending a service of remembrance for the queen. Mourners at the service included Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government.
In the speech, Charles also expressed his love for Prince Harry and Meghan, his son and daughter-in-law - a significant gesture towards a couple whose relationships with the rest of the family have been strained.
"I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas," Charles said in a solemn televised speech.
He also pledged to give lifelong service to the people of the United Kingdom and his other realms.
"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 king said.
"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 endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life."
Charles III said the burial for Queen Elizabeth II will be held in over a week's time. "And 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 speech was pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace in central London in the afternoon hours. Upon arriving there, Britain's new monarch was met with cheers, applause and a crowd singing "God Save The King" as he made his first public appearance since ascending the throne.
Charles and Camilla then briefly inspected the mass of flowers left outside the famous black railings, before heading into the palace where the flag of the British sovereign was flown overhead.
Britain had woken up to its first day without a woman once described by her grandson Harry as "the nation's grandmother". Billboards across the city displayed messages of condolence and newspapers ran front-page photo tributes to the queen.
Buckingham Palace said there would be a period of mourning to be observed by members of the family and the royal household until a week after the funeral, the date of which has not yet been confirmed but is expected in about 10 days time.
American broadcaster NBC reported that U.S. President Joe Biden would attend.
Charles will officially be proclaimed king on Saturday at a meeting of the Accession Council held at St James's Palace followed by proclamations across the nation.
The government has declared a period of national mourning which would continue until the state funeral, and an online book of condolence was opened. Some people shed tears as they laid flowers outside royal palaces where thousands turned up during the day to pay their respects.
"She was amazing. She was like everyone's granny," said Kay McClement, 55, who came with a friend to leave flowers at Balmoral Castle.
Railway worker Liam Fitzjohn, 27, said he brought his daughter for a moment of history. "She's all we ever knew," he said.
The government said it expected large crowds to mass at royal residences and warned of possible delays on some public transport.
Elizabeth was head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Charles, who automatically succeeded her as king, said the death was a moment of great sadness for himself and his family.
"I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world," the 73-year-old said in a statement.
He will meet Prime Minister Liz Truss before later addressing the country.
There were gun salutes at London's Hyde Park and at the Tower of London, and the bells at Westminster Abbey and St Paul's as well as the Sebastopol Bell at Windsor Castle, captured during the 19th Century Crimean War, tolled.
Regular business in parliament was replaced with a special session for lawmakers to pay tribute to the queen. Parliament will also convene on Saturday, something it rarely does, to approve a message of condolence to the king.
"Since last night's shocking news, we have witnessed the most heartfelt outpouring of grief at the loss of her late majesty, the queen," Truss told lawmakers, who held a minute's silence at the start of proceedings.
"Her late majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. She was the rock on which modern Britain was built," said Truss, who Elizabeth only appointed on Tuesday in her last public duty - the 15th premier of her long reign.
Bereft of its symbol of continuity and resilience, Britain begins its new era with a new king and new prime minister in grave economic crisis and following years of political division.
Long-running industrial action sparked by surging inflation was cancelled during the period of mourning.
The Bank of England said it would delay its monthly meeting to set interest rates by one week due to the death.
News that the queen's health was deteriorating emerged shortly after midday on Thursday when a palace statement said she had been put under medical supervision, prompting her family to rush to Scotland.
The queen had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace had called "episodic mobility problems" since the end of last year, forcing her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements. Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in April last year.
Condolences poured in from leaders around the world. From the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the European Commission in Brussels flags were flown at half-mast. Ferdinand Marcos Jr of the Philippines and French President Emmanuel Macron were among those to sign books of condolence.
"To you, she was your queen. To us, she was the queen. To us all she (will) be with us forever," Macron said in a heartfelt message to the British people.
Elizabeth, who was also the world's oldest and longest-serving head of state, came to the throne following the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was just 25 and oversaw a seismic change in the social, political and economic structure of her nation.
She won praise for guiding the monarchy into the 21st Century and modernizing it in the process, despite intense media scrutiny and the often highly public travails of her family. Charles, who polls indicate is less popular than his mother, now has the task of securing the institution's future.
"His Majesty, King Charles III, bears an awesome responsibility that he now carries for all of us," Truss told parliament. "He has already made a profound contribution through his work on conservation, education, and his tireless diplomacy. We owe him our loyalty and devotion."