‘Weight of History Surrounds Us’: King Charles in First Parliament Address

He pledged to uphold "the precious principles of constitutional governance”.

4 min read
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King Charles III on Monday, 12 September, addressed Parliament for the first time as Britain's monarch during which he pledged to follow the example of selfless duty set by his "darling late mother" Queen Elizabeth II in upholding "the precious principles of constitutional governance”.

Responding to the condolences offered by the House of Commons and Lords at Westminster Hall in London, the monarch reflected upon the "weight of history" as he pointed to the many symbols of his mother's reign around the historic Westminster Hall within the Houses of Parliament complex and quoted from William Shakespeare to pay tribute to the Queen, who passed away aged 96 in Scotland on 8 September.


"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,” said Charles.

"This vow she kept with unsurpassed devotion. She set an example of selfless duty which with God's help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow," he said.

Quoting Shakespeare, he noted: "As Shakespeare said of the earlier Queen Elizabeth, she was a pattern to all princes living."

King Highlights Tangible Connections to His Late Mother

In setting the tone for his own relationship with MPs and peers, Charles described Parliament as "the living and breathing instrument of our democracy" and highlighted the “tangible connections to my darling late mother” all around, including the great bell of Big Ben – “one of the most powerful symbols of our nation throughout the world and housed within the Elizabeth Tower also named for my mother's Diamond Jubilee”.

Around 900 members of Parliament and peers gathered for this stage of the constitutional ritual of State Mourning, as they pledged loyalty to the new sovereign. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, read out the condolence message, which was then handed to the new monarch.


"Deep as our grief is, we know yours is deeper... There is nothing we can say in the praise of our late Queen, your mother, that you do not already know," said Hoyle.

At the end of the condolence ceremony, the 73-year-old monarch left for Edinburgh with Queen Consort Camilla to lead a royal procession behind the late Queen's coffin as it makes its journey from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St. Giles' Cathedral in the Scottish capital.

Following a special service to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's life, the coffin will lie-at-rest at the cathedral for 24 hours to allow members of the public to pay their respects.

King Charles III will have an audience with Scottish First Nicola Sturgeon and attend the Scottish Parliament to receive a motion of condolence. On Monday evening, the monarch will hold a vigil with other members of the royal family at St. Giles' Cathedral, where the coffin will be draped in the Royal Standard flag and the Crown of Scotland placed on top.

“I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of Sovereignty which have now passed to me,” Charles said in his declaration on being proclaimed King over the weekend.

“In taking up these responsibilities, I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these Islands and of the Commonwealth Realms and Territories throughout the world,” he said.

The King is scheduled for a customary tour of all parts of the United Kingdom, with Northern Ireland next on his schedule followed by Wales later in the week.


The Queen's Funeral

Meanwhile, the journey of the Queen's coffin from Scotland to England will be undertaken by air on Tuesday, 13 September, when the Queen's daughter – Princess Anne – will accompany it to the Bow Room at the monarch's London residence of Buckingham Palace. On Wednesday, 14 September, the coffin will be borne in procession to the Palace of Westminster for lying-in-state at Westminster Hall in London until the day of the funeral on September 19.

Buckingham Palace has issued a detailed advisory for members of the public who plan to queue up to be able to pay their respects during this phase of the mourning.

The closed coffin will rest on a raised platform known as a catafalque and people will be able to pass by the catafalque. Large crowds are expected, with warnings of long queues and delays on public transport and a ban on photography.

Visitors will go through “airport-style security” and there are tight restrictions on what you can take in, with only a small bag permitted. With thousands expected to turnout, people are warned they may even have to queue overnight with very little opportunity to sit down as the queue will keep moving.

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