‘We recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us’: King Charles’s moving tribute to the Queen as he marks the anniversary of her death at Balmoral – and releases a never-before-seen portrait of Her Majesty
The King has paid a touching tribute to his beloved mother as the country celebrates the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death.
In an unprecedented break from tradition, which shows how moved he has been by the country’s grief at her passing, but also by pride in a remarkable life of public duty, His Majesty recalled the “long life, devoted service of his mother and all she meant to so many.” us’.
Initially, Charles, 74, had planned to celebrate his mother’s death – and his own sad entry – in ‘quiet contemplation’ at home in Scotland.
In doing so, he would follow the same pattern that Queen Elizabeth had followed for seventy years, marking the death of her father, King George VI, at Sandringham in Norfolk, away from the public eye.
But in recent weeks, he began to change his mind, as he was so deeply moved by the global outpouring of grief after his mother died on September 8 last year.
King Charles has paid a touching tribute to his beloved mother as the country celebrates the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s death. Pictured: King Charles and Queen Camilla leave Crathie Parish Church, Balmoral, on Sunday
In his message, Charles said: ‘On the occasion of the first anniversary of Her Majesty’s death and my accession, we remember with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us’
Charles kisses his mother Queen Elizabeth’s hand after she presented him with the Royal Horticultural Society Victoria Medal of Honor in May 2009
“I am also deeply grateful for the love and support I have shown to my wife and myself this year as we do our very best to serve you all,” King Charles wrote.
The Mail can reveal that the King and Queen Camilla chose last night not to return to their own home in Birkhall on the Balmoral estate as planned, but to remain in the castle itself where Elizabeth died aged 96, surrounded by the glory of the Scottish Highlands that she loved.
They will remain there today, comforted by some of those closest to Her Majesty, and spend the night there too, before returning to their adjoining estate. A source said, “I think it will be a comfort to be surrounded by so much that was known to her.”
In his message, Charles said: ‘On the occasion of the first anniversary of Her Majesty’s death and my accession, we remember with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us.
“I am also deeply grateful for the love and support I have shown my wife and myself this year as we do our very best to serve you all.”
It was signed by Charles R and accompanied by a portrait chosen by the King that has never before been released to the general public. The photo was taken at Buckingham Palace on October 16, 1968, as part of an official session awarded to the legendary Cecil Beaton – the last he would ever undertake with Her Majesty before he passed away.
It was displayed the following month at the National Portrait Gallery, but has not previously been released publicly.
The king apparently chose the photo because of the ‘beautiful’ – and slightly mischievous – look in his mother’s eyes, who was 42 at the time.
His tribute was echoed by that of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said: ‘On the solemn anniversary of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our thoughts are with His Majesty King Charles III and the entire Royal Family.
The King will spend today and tonight at Balmoral Castle (pictured), where his mother died a year ago
Queen Elizabeth welcomes Liz Truss to an audience in Balmoral, Scotland, last September
“With a one-year perspective, the scope of Her Majesty’s service only seems greater. Her commitment to the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth only seems deeper. And our gratitude for such an extraordinary life of duty and dedication only continues to grow.
“I cherish my memories of the times I met Her Majesty, especially the private audience I had with her at Buckingham Palace before I presented my first Budget as Chancellor. I was struck by her wisdom, by her incredible warmth and grace, but also by her sharp wit.’
And he spoke for many as he reflected on the effect she had on everyone she met.
“People across the United Kingdom – whether they were lucky enough to meet Her Majesty or not – will reflect today on what she meant to them and the example she set for all of us. We will cherish those memories,” he said.
‘The bond between land and monarch is sacred. It holds up. So as we continue to mourn the passing of Her Majesty, we should be proud that this remarkable legacy of service – and this remarkable bond – continues to grow today under the reign of His Majesty the King.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said the long queues throughout the night to see the late queen laid in state showed that she had “always enjoyed a special bond with her people”.
“It was a relationship built on her understanding that service to this great nation is the common thread that unites sovereign and subject,” he said.
“So, as we rethink her legacy today, let’s embrace that spirit of public service as our guide to a brighter future.”
Her last prime minister – albeit short-lived – Liz Truss, with whom she was so memorably photographed for the last time, also spoke of their meeting.
She described how the frail but “cheerful” and “mentally alert” monarch had told her that they would “meet again soon.” The Queen had welcomed Mrs Truss to Balmoral on 6 September to appoint her Prime Minister.
“She really wanted to reassure me that we would see each other again soon. It was very important to her,” Ms. Truss told GB News.
The Queen had welcomed Mrs Truss to Balmoral on 6 September to appoint her Prime Minister
Mrs. Truss added, “She was very determined to do her duty to the end.”
The Queen died two days later, with Mrs Truss describing the scene as she waited in Downing Street when confirmation came around 4.30pm.
‘We were in the Downing Street flat with officials and other people. So when the news came through, it kind of confirmed the worst fears we had,” she said.
She recalled that the king was “very, very determined” when she spoke to him on the phone to offer her condolences on the day his mother died and his reign began.
Today soldiers and horses who took part in the state funeral procession and the proclamation salutes that marked the new reign will return to perform gun salutes in honor of the King on the anniversary day of the Accession Jubilee.
Captain Amy Cooper – who was the lead horseman in the procession that carried the Queen’s coffin to lie in state in Westminster Hall – will give the order to fire a 41-gun salute in London’s Hyde Park around noon .
Captain Cooper is with the King’s Troop, almost all of whom played a part in the Queen’s final farewell a year ago.
There will also be a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London by The Honorable Artillery Company, while at 1pm the bells will ring at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the King’s accession.
A source said King Charles and Queen Camilla will strike a balance between thinking carefully about the public nature of the moment and finding the space for privacy to reflect privately.