Britain’s King Charles will address a nation in mourning today following the death of his mother and the country’s figurehead, Queen Elizabeth, at the age of 96.
Charles, who raced to be by the side of the queen before she passed away at her Scottish home yesterday, was due to travel back to London with his wife Camilla, now Queen Consort, before meeting the prime minister and making a televised statement.
The eldest of her four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, who at 73 was the oldest heir apparent in British history, became king immediately.
Royal officials confirmed he is now known as King Charles III – the first king of that name to sit on the throne since 1685.
Hundreds of flowers and flickering candles were left at the gates of Buckingham Palace in central London, as billboards lit up in tribute across the capital with images of the queen. Newspapers ran front-page photo tributes to the queen.
The queen’s other children – Princess Anne, 72, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Edward, 58 – had also flocked to Balmoral.
They were joined by Charles’s elder son, Prince William, and William’s estranged brother Prince Harry.
Andrew, Edward and William were photographed arriving at around 5:00 pm, after the queen had passed away.
Harry, who travelled separately, arrived later in the evening.
Charles said the death was a moment of great sadness for himself and his family.
“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,” he said in a statement.
He is expected to meet Prime Minister Liz Truss today before later addressing the country. There will also be gun salutes.
News that the queen’s health was deteriorating emerged shortly after midday on Thursday when her doctors said in a statement that she was under medical supervision, prompting her family to rush to Scotland.
The queen had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace had called “episodic mobility problems” since the end of last year, forcing her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements. Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in 2021.
Her last public duty came only on Tuesday, when she appointed Truss prime minister ― the 15th of her reign.
One of her last decisive acts was to settle an unanswered question for the succession, giving her blessing for Charles’s second wife, Camilla, to be called “queen consort.”