A visibly emotional King Charles III pledged on Monday to follow his late mother’s example of “selfless duty” — and talked about feeling the “weight of history” as he addressed lawmakers from both houses of parliament in London for the first time as monarch.
During a solemn ceremony at Westminster Hall, Charles paid tribute to parliament as “the living and breathing instrument of our democracy”.
“As I stand before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history which surrounds us, and which reminds us of the vital parliamentary traditions, to which members of both Houses dedicate yourselves with such personal commitment for the betterment of us all,” he said.
Hundreds of members of parliament and peers crowded into the 1,000-year-old hall at the Houses of Parliament for the service, rich in pageantry, in which lawmakers and dignitaries offered their condolences to the king on the loss of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
A trumpet fanfare greeted the king and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, both dressed in black, as they entered the majestic hall and made their way to a pair of gilded thrones to the shouts of “God Save the King!”
Charles told members of the House of Commons and House of Lords that he would follow his late mother Queen Elizabeth II in upholding the principles that underpin the UK’s political system.
“While very young, her late Majesty pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the precious principles of constitutional government which lie at the heart of our nation. This vow she kept with unsurpassed devotion,” he told the assembled lawmakers and peers, among them Prime Minister Liz Truss and her predecessor, Boris Johnson.
“She set an example of selfless duty which, with God’s help and your counsels, I am resolved faithfully to follow,” the king added. “As Shakespeare says of the earlier Queen Elizabeth, she was ‘a pattern to all Princes living’.”
The hall, with its magnificent hammer-beam roof, is the oldest part of the parliamentary complex — a remnant of the medieval Palace of Westminster that once stood on the site.
The ceremony was held in Westminster Hall because monarchs are not allowed inside the House of Commons. That rule dates from the 17th century when King Charles I tried to enter and arrest lawmakers.
That confrontation between crown and Parliament led to a civil war which ended with the king being beheaded in 1649.
The queen died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday at age 96, triggering a period of national mourning where tens of thousands of Britons are expected to pay tribute to her.
The new king is set to fly later Monday to Edinburgh to be with the queen’s flag-draped coffin as it lies at rest in the Scottish capital.
The king will walk behind his mother’s coffin as it is slowly transported from Holyroodhouse to St. Giles’ Cathedral, where the crown of Scotland will be placed on the coffin ahead of a service of prayer and reflection on the life and the unprecedented 70-year reign of the widely revered queen.
The queen’s coffin will lie at the cathedral for 24 hours, giving members of the public a chance to file past and pay their respects.
On Tuesday, it will be flown to London where the coffin will lie in state at the Houses of Parliament Palace from Wednesday afternoon until the morning of the funeral on Sept. 19.
Authorities already have issued rules and guidelines for people wanting to pay their respects in London, with a 5-mile line expected.
After visiting Scotland, Charles embarks on a tour of the other nations that make up the United Kingdom — he visits the Northern Ireland capital, Belfast, on Tuesday and Wales on Friday.
With Post Wires
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