The King paid a loving tribute to his late mother as he marked the first full day of mourning with an address to the nation and a walkabout in front of Buckingham Palace.
The new monarch received the heartfelt condolences and kisses from the public when he arrived at the palace after spending Thursday night at Balmoral.
The King and his wife viewed floral tributes left in memory of his mother, and in a touching moment he put his hand around the new Queen, who appeared close to tears, after they shook every outstretched hand and acknowledged words of sympathy from the crowds during a 15-minute walkabout.
Addressing the nation for the first time since the death of his mother, King Charles III renewed his promise of lifelong service with the words: “Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today”.
But during the televised address, he also spoke as a grieving son, adding: “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 King used his speech to give new titles to William and Kate – now to be known as the Prince and Princess of Wales – and spoke warmly of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, saying: “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
In the afternoon, the death gun salute was fired at 1pm across the UK and abroad, made up of 96 rounds to represent each year of the Queen’s life.
Salutes took place in locations including Cardiff Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Hillsborough Castle, York, Portsmouth and Gibraltar, with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery firing in Hyde Park, while at the same time the Honourable Artillery Company ran the salute at the Tower of London.
The King held the first of what will be many audiences with the Prime Minister. It was just three days ago that Liz Truss was asked to form a government by the Queen at Balmoral, in one of her final official duties.
The first official rendition of God Save The King was sung at St Paul’s Cathedral at the end of a memorial service for the Queen.
The lyrics to the national anthem have changed from “Queen” to “King” and “her victorious” to “him victorious”.
Earlier in the day, tributes to the Queen continued from across the world, with presidents and prime ministers speaking warmly of the wisdom and leadership she shared with them.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep sadness” and a sense of “emptiness” as he praised her “great affection for France” and recalled in a video message that she mastered “our language, loved our culture and touched our hearts”.
To you, she was your Queen.
To us, she was The Queen.
She will be with all of us forever. pic.twitter.com/PaL1DRmlHK
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 9, 2022
There were tributes from UK politicians too, with both tears and laughter in the Commons, particularly when Theresa May recounted a dicey moment where she dropped some cheese in front of the Queen during a picnic at Balmoral.
“We all mucked in to put the food and drink out on the table. I picked up some cheese, put it on a plate and was transferring it to the table. The cheese fell on the floor. I had a split-second decision to make.
“I picked up the cheese, put it on the plate and put it on the table. I turned round to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen. I looked at her. She looked at me and she just smiled. And the cheese remained on the table.”
On Saturday, the new King will be formally proclaimed monarch at a historic Accession Council in the State Apartments of St James’s Palace at 10am in a ceremony that will be televised for the first time.
Then Charles holds his first Privy Council, accompanied by his Queen and William, who are also Privy Counsellors, and makes his personal declaration and oath.
The first public proclamation of the new sovereign is read in the open air from the Friary Court balcony at St James’s Palace by the Garter King of Arms. Proclamations are then made around the city and across the country.
Union flags go back up to full-mast at 1pm and remain there for 24 hours to coincide with the proclamations before returning to half-mast.
Charles will also hold audiences with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.