Liz Truss has insisted Britain must show it does not fear what lies ahead after “our lives changed forever” following the death of its “icon” Queen.
The Prime Minister said the King “bears an awesome responsibility that he now carries for all of us”, adding: “Even as he mourns, his sense of duty and service is clear.”
Her words were heard in a crowded but emotionally charged and silent chamber, the green benches populated by MPs dressed in black, as Parliament came together to mark the death of the nation’s longest-reigning monarch.
Elizabeth, who died aged 96, was remembered during a minute’s silence led by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
The Commons and Lords will sit on Friday and Saturday to allow tributes to the Queen. Proceedings paused shortly before 6pm Friday to allow MPs to watch Charles’s address to the nation.
MPs could be seen wiping away tears as they viewed the speech via television screens in the chamber, and they marked its conclusion by applauding.
Ms Truss told the Commons: “On the death of her father King George VI, Winston Churchill said the news had stilled the clatter and traffic of 20th century life in many lands.
“Now 70 years later in the tumult of the 21st century life has paused again. Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.”
Ms Truss said the Queen “remained determined to carry out her duties” even at the age of 96, noting: “It was just three days ago at Balmoral that she invited me to form a Government and become her 15th prime minister.
“Again she generously shared with me her deep experience of government, even in those last days.”
Ms Truss said the Queen’s devotion “remains an example to us all” and hailed her for having “reinvented the monarchy for the modern age”.
She said: “Her late Majesty’s image is an icon for what Britain stands for as a nation, on our coins, on our stamps, and in portraits around the world. Her legacy will endure through the countless people she met, the global history she witnessed, and the lives that she touched.
“She was loved and admired by people across the United Kingdom and across the world.
“One of the reasons for that affection was her sheer humanity.
“She reinvented monarchy for the modern age.
“She was a champion of freedom and democracy around the world.
“She was dignified but not distant.
“She was willing to have fun.”
She added: “During her first televised Christmas message in 1957 she said: ‘Today we need a special kind of courage so we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future’. We need that courage now.
“In an instant yesterday our lives changed forever.
“Today we show the world that we do not fear what lies ahead.”
On the King, she said: “His Majesty King Charles III bears an awesome responsibility that he now carries for all of us.
“I was grateful to speak to His Majesty last night and offer my condolences.
“Even as he mourns, his sense of duty and service is clear.
“He has already made a profound contribution through his work on conservation, education and his tireless diplomacy.
“We owe him our loyalty and devotion.”
She continued: “All of us in this House will support him as he takes our country forward to a new era of hope and progress. Our new Carolean age.
“The crown endures. Our nation endures. And in that spirit, I say God save the King.”
Her speech was met with approval from MPs, with Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, a Home Office minister, shouting “God save the King” from the side gallery as she finished.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, paid tribute to the Queen’s “total commitment to service and duty, a deep devotion to the country, the Commonwealth, and the people she loved”, adding: “In return for that, we loved her.
“And it is because of that great shared love that we grieve today. For the 70 glorious years of her reign, our Queen was at the heart of this nation’s life.
“She did not simply reign over us, she lived alongside us, she shared in our hopes and our fears, our joy, and our pain. Our good times and our bad.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford paid tribute to the Queen as “one of the true constants in all our lives” and “a steady hand guiding the ship and the perpetual symbol of stability”.
Mr Blackford said: “She was a monarch who reigned with compassion and integrity and established a deep connection with the public.
“The affection which the Queen had for Scotland, and that Scotland had for the Queen, cannot be under-estimated.
“The relationship between Scotland and the Queen was one of shared admiration.
“Indeed, whilst she was everyone’s Queen, for many in Scotland, she was Elizabeth, Queen of Scots.”