King Charles to be proclaimed monarch at historic ceremony

AFP / Daniel Leal

King Charles will officially be proclaimed as Britain's new monarch on Saturday in a ceremony followed by gun salutes and the reading of proclamations in London and across the four corners of the United Kingdom.

The death of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth on Thursday after 70 years on the throne set in train long-established and highly choreographed plans for days of mourning and a state funeral that will be held in just over a week.

The death of Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, has drawn an outpouring of tributes from home and around the globe.

Charles, 73, succeeded his mother immediately on Thursday, but an Accession Council made up of hundreds of politicians, bishops, and senior civil servants will proclaim his succession on Saturday at a ceremony with officials in traditional heraldic clothing.

The proclamation will be accompanied by gun salutes and heralds who travel to Mansion House in the City of London, where it will be read at the Royal Exchange.

The proclamation will be read publicly in the other capital cities of the United Kingdom - Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Cardiff in Wales - and at other locations, too.

The new king vowed on Friday to serve the nation with "loyalty, respect and love" in his first address to the nation as king. Charles is king and head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Returning to London from Scotland, where his mother died, he was greeted with cheers, applause and a crowd singing "God Save The King" as he made his first public appearance outside Buckingham Palace.

Charles also said in his address that he had made his eldest son William, 40, the new Prince of Wales, the title that had been his for more than 50 years and is traditionally held by the heir to the throne.

William's wife Kate becomes Princess of Wales, a role last held by the late Princess Diana.

Britain has declared a period of mourning until the state funeral for Elizabeth, once described by her grandson Harry as "the nation's grandmother". The date for that has not been announced, but it is expected in a little over a week.

Leaders worldwide are expected in London for the funeral, including US President Joe Biden, who said he would attend on Friday.

To the British people, "she was your queen. To us, she was the queen," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

Although he is already king, Charles' coronation will take place later - and the timing for that is not yet clear. There was a 16-month gap between Elizabeth becoming queen in 1952 and her coronation in 1953.

TEARS AND FLOWERS

Thousands have gathered at royal palaces to pay their respects to the late queen, with some shedding tears as they laid flowers and others wanting to celebrate the life of a monarch who, for most Britons, was the only one known.

Elizabeth, 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.

Over the decades, she witnessed a seismic change in her nation's social, political and economic structure. She won praise for guiding the monarchy into the 21st Century and modernising it in the process, despite intense media scrutiny and the often highly public travails of her family.

Charles, who opinion polls indicate is less popular than his mother, now has the task of securing the institution's future.

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