Britain’s King Charles will address a grieving nation

Britain’s King Charles will address a grieving nation on Friday after the death of his mother and country’s leading figure, Queen Elizabeth, at the age of 96.

Charles, who raced to be by the Queen’s side before she died at her Scottish home on Thursday, was due to return to London with wife Camilla, now Queen Consort, before meeting the Prime Minister and making a televised statement.

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The death of the Queen, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a commanding presence on the world stage for seven decades, has drawn condolences from around the world.

In this file photo taken on June 2, 2022, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (R) stands alongside Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, to watch a special flypast from the balcony of the Buckingham Palace. (AFP)

At first light in London, members of the public continued to lay flowers outside Buckingham Palace and notice boards across the city displayed messages of condolence. Newspapers carried front-page photographic tributes to the Queen.

On Thursday, thousands of people had gathered outside the Queen’s palace, where the news was met with stunned silence as the flag was lowered to half-mast.

Many described a sense of shock at the death of the only monarch most Britons have ever known.

“He’s the person we’ve always admired,” tearful pensioner Christine West told Reuters outside the Queen’s home, Windsor Castle, west London. “It’s a sad day for all of us.”

Charles, who automatically became UK monarch and head of state of 14 other kingdoms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, said the death was a time of great sadness for him and his family .

“We deeply mourn the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Kingdoms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people across the world,” the 73-year-old said in a statement.

He is expected to meet Prime Minister Liz Truss on Friday before addressing the country later. There will also be gun salutes.

News that the Queen’s health was deteriorating emerged shortly after midday Thursday when her doctors said in a statement that she was under medical supervision, prompting her family to rush to Scotland.

The Queen had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace called “episodic mobility issues” since late last year, forcing her to withdraw from almost all of her public engagements. Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in 2021.

Her last public office came only on Tuesday, when she appointed Truss Prime Minister – the 15th of her reign.

    Queen Elizabeth greets Liz Truss during an audience where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party to become Prime Minister and form a new government, at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Britain, September 6, 2022 .

Queen Elizabeth greets Liz Truss during an audience where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party to become Prime Minister and form a new government, at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, Britain, September 6, 2022 .

“The death of Her Majesty The Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world,” Truss said outside his office in Downing Street where the flag, like those on royal palaces and government buildings across Britain, has been lowered.

“Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and strength we needed. She was the very spirit of Britain – and that spirit will live on.

Reign of seven decades

The news didn’t just surprise Brits, with condolences pouring in from world leaders.

“His legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and in the history of our world,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Queen Elizabeth II, who was also the oldest and longest serving head of state in the world, ascended the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952, when she was n was only 25 years old.

She is crowned in June of the following year. The first televised coronation was a taste of a new world in which the lives of members of the royal family would come under increasing media scrutiny.

“I am sincerely committed to your service, as so many of you are committed to mine. Throughout my life and with all my heart, I will strive to be worthy of your trust,” he said. she declared in a speech to her subjects on the day of her coronation.

Elizabeth became monarch at a time when Britain still retained much of its former empire with Winston Churchill as its British prime minister, while Josef Stalin ruled the Soviet Union and the Korean War raged.

Stripped of its symbol of continuity and resilience, Britain is entering a new era in a severe economic crisis, marked by unrest with Europe and a population disaffected by years of political strife and scandal.

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has died aged 96 (Buckingham Palace)