Yesterday, King Charles III succeeded his mother, the late Queen of England, and he expressed his deep regret at her passing.
The 73-year-old Charles had waited the longest in the history of the British monarchy—seven decades—to become king.
But as Charles deals with his loss and leads the country in mourning in the following days, a new, obviously shorter chapter of his life will begin.
The Duke of Cambridge, who is next in line to become the Prince of Wales and the first in line to the throne, hurried from Berkshire to Balmoral as the Queen’s children and grandchildren crowded around her.
The Duke of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Duke of York, who continues to be debarred from royal duties due to his connections to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, were all on the same RAF plane as the Duke of Cambridge when it landed in Aberdeen just before 4 p.m.
Charles didn’t lose his father until April 2021, when Prince Philip passed away at Windsor Castle at the age of 99.
In June, Harry addressed his “mummy” in a very intimate manner at a celebration of her platinum jubilee outside Buckingham Palace. Before looking forward with the hope that they may celebrate one of her birthdays, he remarked, “You laugh and weep with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years.”
Charles will take over a role meant to represent stability in times of change, at a time of great political and social flux. But with decades of active duty as the Prince of Wales behind him, he will hope to rise to that task. Not least, despite his age, he will represent a different generation to the Queen, becoming the first British monarch to have gone to school.
The new king has met scores of foreign leaders, interacted with numerous British governments and established a network of charities and causes that have plugged him into at least some of the concerns of ordinary British people and led him into conflict with others.
He turned his court into a kind of grand salon for convening the powerful – gathering business leaders, faith leaders and politicians to tackle issues ranging from sustainability to urban renewal.
His views on alternative medicines, architectural style and farming have sometimes led to clashes with other parts of civic society, but he has cast himself as a kind of tribune of the people reflecting, he believes, the views of the quiet majority.
In a statement, the new king described his mother’s death as a moment of great sadness but said he was comforted by the deep love the whole world had for the late queen.
“The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of great sadness for me and all members of my family,” part of the statement read.
It added: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt through the country, the realms, and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
“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.”
Earlier in the day, the palace put out a worrying statement about the queen’s health, indicating that not only had family members been notified, but that she would remain at Balmoral where she remained comfortably under medical supervision
However, concerns for her health had been regular anxiety for the Royal Family and the palace. Earlier this week she was forced to postpone her Privy Council meeting after doctors recommended she rested.
Charles, as the queen’s eldest son, now inherits the sovereign title and job as head of the Commonwealth, along with other assets such as land and property.
In the past, the queen expressed the desire for Charles to take over the Commonwealth. “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” she said in 2018 after he was unanimously voted to be the next head.
Charles, 73, has waited decades to become king and is the longest-serving heir in British history, according to the Washington Post.
He is the eldest of four children born to the queen and her late husband, Prince Philip. When his mother assumed the throne at age 25, he became Britain’s heir apparent at age 3. Charles’s titles include Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay and Earl of Carrick.
Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981, and the couple became known as the Prince and Princess of Wales. They had two children, Princes William and Harry. Charles and Diana separated in 1992. Following Diana’s death in 1997, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, now known as the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
Charles has long campaigned for a better environment, championing global sustainability in speeches over the years. His work includes expanding education and opportunities for young people in the United Kingdom.
Buckingham Palace confirmed Thursday that the new monarch would be known as King Charles III.
In many ways, Charles has been the first modern heir to the British throne: He was sent off to school rather than being tutored privately at the palace, and after that, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree at Cambridge.
The young prince then served in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, being deployed on several warships during the 1970s.
Charles’ life in the public eye has been defined in many ways by the women with whom he has shared it. From early on, the boy-who-would-be-king’s most essential duty was to find a wife and produce future heirs.
Lady Diana Spencer seemed to be the perfect partner, though there were hints of the troubles that would come from the very beginning. He was 32, she was 20, and their wedding was a worldwide media spectacle. Two sons, Princes William and then Harry, dutifully followed.
But it became obvious to the world that the royal couple wasn’t happy together. As more and more photos showed them looking distant, the tabloids labelled them “The Glums.”
In their very public divorce drama, Prince Charles often unwittingly played the role of villain for a voracious tabloid press.
Asked post-split whether she thought Charles’ long-time confidant and love interest Camilla Parker Bowles had been a factor in the breakdown of her relationship, Diana said: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
When Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, Charles’ public image was so tarnished that many wondered if he could ever become king at all. It took years of being seen as the dedicated father to his two grieving sons for the prince to emerge from under the cloud.
But he did emerge, and he even went on to marry Camilla in 2005 in the first non-religious, civil ceremony ever for a British royal in England.
Once his life partner and future heirs were determined, Prince Charles concentrated his efforts on the various charities and other causes that he supported – not all of them hugely popular initiatives in their day.
“I suppose I have spent most of my life trying to propose and initiate things that very few people could see the point of or, frankly, thought were plain bonkers,” he said in 2016. “Perhaps some of them are now beginning to recognise a spot of pioneering in all this apparent madness?
“I find myself born into this particular position,” he once told an interviewer. “I’m determined to make the most of it and do whatever I can to help and, I hope, leave things behind a little bit better than I found them,” he added.
Charles is no stranger to the corridors of power on the other side of the Atlantic. He’s visited Washington at least 20 times and has met every American president since Jimmy Carter.
He met President Joe Biden in November 2021, at the COP26 climate conference in Scotland. Biden praised the prince for his leadership on environmental matters.
During former President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK in 2019, Charles was scheduled to sit down for about 15 minutes with the American leader, but they ended up talking for an hour and a half.
Trump later said the prince “did most of the talking,” but he described the heir to the British throne as “a very good person” who was “really into climate change.”
“What moved me is his passion for future generations,” said Trump. “He wants to make sure future generations have a climate that is a good climate, as opposed to a disaster, and I agree.”
In 2015, Charles met with then-President Barack Obama for the second time during a three-day visit to the US in the Oval Office.