Britain’s new monarch mourns his mother
Balmoral – King Charles III, Britain’s new monarch, described the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as a moment of the greatest sadness.
His comments came in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace after it was announced the Queen had died peacefully at Balmoral, her estate in Scotland, at the age of 96.
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” the new king said.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother.”
He added: “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth and by countless people around the world.
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”
With the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth on Thursday, Charles finally becomes king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, ending a wait of more than 70 years – the longest by an heir in British history – but the role will be daunting.
His late mother was overwhelmingly popular and respected, but she leaves a royal family that has had reputations tarnished and relationships strained, including over lingering allegations of racism against Buckingham Palace officials.
The new king confronted those challenges at the age of 73, the oldest monarch to take the throne in a lineage that dates back 1 000 years, with his second wife Camilla – who still divides public opinion – by his side.
To detractors, the new king is weak, vain, interfering, and ill-equipped for the role of sovereign.
He has been ridiculed for talking to plants and obsessing over architecture and the environment, and will long be associated with his failed first marriage to the late Princess Diana.
Supporters say that is a distortion of the good work he does, that he is simply misunderstood and that in areas such as climate change he has been ahead of his time.
They argue he is thoughtful and concerned about his fellow Britons from all communities and walks of life.
His Prince’s Trust charity helped more than one million unemployed and disadvantaged young people since its launch almost 50 years ago.
“The trouble is you are in a no-win situation,” Charles once said in a TV documentary. “If you do absolutely nothing at all … they are going to complain about that. If you try and get stuck in, do something to help, they also complain.”
Throughout his life, Charles has been caught between a modernising monarchy, trying to find its place in a fast-changing and more egalitarian society, while maintaining traditions that give the institution its allure.
That tension can be seen through the lives of his own sons.
The eldest, William, 40, now the heir himself, leads a life of traditional duty, charity work and military pageantry.
Younger son Harry, 37, resides outside Los Angeles with his American wife, the former actress Meghan Markle and family, forging a new career more in keeping with Hollywood than Buckingham Palace.
The brothers, once very close, are now barely on speaking terms.