The United Kingdom commemorated the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the rise of King Charles III on Friday with gun salutes and the tolling of bells. King Charles III, reflecting on his mother’s 70-year reign, hailed her as a symbol of steadfastness.
To mark the occasion, Charles and Queen Camilla paid tribute to the late queen at their Scottish family estate and participated in a remembrance service at a nearby small church, a place dear to the late queen’s heart.
“In marking the first anniversary of her late majesty’s death and my accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us,” Charles said in a recorded message. “I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all.”
Military units marked the king’s rise to the throne with salutes fired at the Tower of London in the eastern part of the capital and at Green Park near Buckingham Palace. The bells of Westminster Abbey rang out at 1 p.m.
Prince William, the heir to the throne, along with his wife Catherine, attended a commemorative service at St. Davids Cathedral in Wales. Meanwhile, Prince Harry was captured by a member of the public leaving St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the final resting place of the queen.
Harry, no longer holding an official royal role, made the journey from his California home to London for a charity event on Thursday. However, it was not anticipated that he would have meetings with his father or brother during his visit. Harry is scheduled to participate in the Invictus Games for injured soldiers in Germany over the weekend, accompanied by his wife Meghan.
At the awards ceremony supported by WellChild, an organization dedicated to providing crucial care for seriously ill children at home instead of hospitals, Harry conveyed that his grandmother would be filled with pride in the attendees.
“I know exactly one year on that she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we’re together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community,” he said.
The king unveiled an unpublished photograph of the queen, capturing her at the pinnacle of her authority at the age of 42. This image, taken by Cecil Beaton, a renowned fashion photographer frequently commissioned to photograph royal family members, portrays Elizabeth adorned in the regalia of the Order of the Garter and adorned with the Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Tiara, a masterpiece comprised of 15 intricately interwoven diamond circles.
Following the queen’s passing, the nation experienced an overwhelming surge of collective mourning, with hundreds of thousands of individuals paying their respects by passing by her casket, honoring the monarch who had been the only one most had ever known.
“People across the U.K. — whether they had the good fortune to meet Her Late Majesty or not — will be reflecting today on what she meant to them and the example she set for us all,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.
Elizabeth II, who ascended to the throne at the youthful age of 25, held a position of immense respect. Her enduring presence played a vital role in uniting the United Kingdom during a period marked by the dissolution of the empire and the transformation into a modern, multicultural nation shaped by immigrants from various corners of the globe. Her passing prompted contemplation about the monarchy’s future.
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In contrast, Charles has transitioned seamlessly into his new role, steering clear of contentious issues and focusing on fostering connections among the four regions of the U.K. and the diverse array of ethnic and religious communities that compose its population.