King Charles III addressed the nation for the first time on Friday, paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth as a mother and a monarch; acknowledging both of his sons, Prince William and, notably, Prince Harry, and vowing, with “unswerving devotion,” to continue his mother’s history of service as Britain’s next king.
“I, too, now solemnly pledge myself, through the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” King Charles told the country, his tone somber yet direct. “Whatever your background or beliefs may be, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love.”
Seated beside a framed photo of the Queen, the new sovereign thanked mourners—whom he greeted earlier on Friday outside Buckingham Palace—for their support: “I know that her death brings great sadness to so many of you and I share that sense of loss beyond measure with you all.” As per Operation London Bridge, King Charles noted that “in a little over a week’s time,” the country will gather for the Queen’s funeral.
King Charles quickly and clearly addressed the issue of utmost concern in the aftermath of the Queen’s death: the continuity of the institution of the monarchy in a rapidly-changing and diversifying modern world. During his mother’s historic, seven-decade reign, “we’ve seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths,” the king said. “The institutions of the state have changed in turn, but through all changes and challenges, our nation and the wider family of realms have prospered and flourished. Our values have remained and must remain constant.”
His ascension—which will formally happen in a ceremony on Saturday at St. James’s Palace—also means “a time of change for my family,” King Charles said. “I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla,” he said. “I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I’ve come to rely so much.” King Charles also formally appointed Prince William and Catherine as the new Prince and Princess of Wales, his former title and that of the late Princess Diana. “With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will continue to inspire and lead our national conversation.”
In a notable, wow-moment, King Charles also acknowledged Prince Harry and Meghan, a show of unity despite the many reports of their estrangement. “I want also to express my love for Harry and Megan as they continue to build their lives overseas,” he said.
After asserting himself as the new monarch, King Charles closed his speech with the tenderness of a son in mourning: “To my darling Ma Ma, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Pa Pa, I simply say this: 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.”
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.