The United Kingdom’s new king, Charles, has described the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, as a moment of the greatest sadness, in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world,” King Charles said on Thursday.
“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.”
Charles, 73, automatically becomes king of the United Kingdom and the head of state of 14 other realms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. His wife Camilla becomes queen consort.
News that the queen’s health was deteriorating emerged on Thursday when her doctors said she was under medical supervision, prompting her family to rush to be by her side at Balmoral.
The queen had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace has called “episodic mobility problems” since the end of last year, forcing her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements.
Clarence House confirmed that the UK’s new monarch will be known as King Charles III.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss spoke to Charles after making a statement outside her Downing Street office to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth and call on the UK to unite around the country’s new monarch, her spokesman said.
Buckingham Palace said Charles and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, would remain at Balmoral Castle, where the queen died, before returning to London on Friday.
The new monarch – born Charles Philip Arthur George at Buckingham Palace – will address the nation on Friday, his spokesman said, his first speech following the death of his mother.
Charles is the longest-serving heir apparent in British history. He has been heir to the throne since the age of just three, when his mother became Queen Elizabeth II after his grandfather King George VI died on February 6, 1952.
Charles has been outspoken on issues close to his heart, notably architecture, the environment, farming, faith and alternative medicine.
His Prince’s Trust charity has helped more than one million unemployed and disadvantaged young people since its launch almost 50 years ago.
Charles has kept a relatively low profile in the realm of politics but in June, media reports emerged that he had been involved in a spat with the government over its policy on sending asylum seekers to Rwanda – something the prince was said to have called “appalling”, Reuters reported.