By Michael Holden and Kate Holton
LONDON (Reuters) – King Charles will be officially proclaimed Britain’s new monarch on Saturday in a ceremony followed by gun salutes and the reading of proclamations in London and all over the UK.
The death of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth on Thursday after 70 years on the throne set in motion long-standing and highly choreographed plans for days of mourning and a state funeral set to take place in just over a week.
The death of Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has sparked a flurry of tributes from home and around the world.
Charles, 73, immediately succeeded his mother on Thursday, but an Accession Council made up of hundreds of politicians, bishops and senior officials will announce his succession on Saturday at a ceremony with officials in traditional heraldic dress.
The proclamation will be accompanied by gun salutes and heralds traveling to Mansion House in the City of London, where it will be read at the Royal Exchange.
The proclamation will be read publicly in the other UK capitals – Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland and Cardiff in Wales – as well as other locations.
The new king vowed Friday to serve the nation with “loyalty, respect and love” in his maiden address to the nation as king. Charles is King and Head of State of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
Earlier, when he returned to London from Scotland where his mother died, he was greeted with cheers, applause and a crowd chanting “God Save The King” as he made his first public appearance outside Buckingham Palace.
Charles also said in his speech that he had made his eldest son William, 40, the new Prince of Wales, the title he has held for over 50 years and traditionally held by the heir to the throne.
William’s wife Kate becomes Princess of Wales, a role last played by the late Princess Diana.
Britain has declared a period of mourning until the state funeral for Elizabeth, once described by her grandson Harry as “the country’s grandmother”. The date for that is not yet known, but is expected in a little more than a week.
Leaders from around the world are expected in London for the funeral, including US President Joe Biden, who said Friday he would attend.
To the British people: “She was your queen. To us she was the queen,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.
Although he is already king, Charlemagne’s coronation will take place at a later date – and the timing for that is not yet clear. There was a 16-month gap between Elizabeth becoming queen in 1952 and her coronation in 1953.
TEARS AND FLOWERS
Thousands have gathered in royal palaces to pay their respects to the late Queen, some wept as they laid flowers and others wished to celebrate the life of a monarch who to most Britons was the only one they have ever known.
Elizabeth, the world’s oldest and longest-serving head of state, came to the throne upon the death of her father King George VI on February 6, 1952, when she was just 25.
Over the decades, she witnessed a seismic shift in the social, political and economic fabric of her country. She received praise for guiding the monarchy into the 21st century and modernizing it in the process, despite intense media scrutiny and her family’s often very public trials.
Charles, who is less popular than his mother according to opinion polls, now has the task of securing the institution’s future.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Frances Kerry)