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King reflects on loss of Elizabeth II in first anniversary of accession message

King reflects on loss of Elizabeth II in first anniversary of accession message

The King has recorded a poignant message and released a favourite photograph of his mother to mark the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death and his accession to throne.

Charles, in words written and audio spoken at Balmoral Castle where the Queen died on September 8 last year, said he recalled with “great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us”.

Friday is a year since the nation’s longest-reigning monarch, who served as Queen for 70 years, died peacefully of old age at 96 just months after her Platinum Jubilee.

The formal colour photograph chosen by Charles was taken by Cecil Beaton and shows a young Queen, then 42, at an official portrait sitting in 1968.

She is standing sideways and smiling as she is photographed in her Garter robes and wearing the Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Tiara, made of 15 interlaced diamond circles.

The King, in his short tribute, thanked the nation for the love and support shown to him and Queen Camilla during his first year as monarch, and pledged their continued service.

Anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II
The Cecil Beaton portrait chosen by the King to mark the first anniversary of his mother’s death (Royal Collection Trust/His Majesty King Charles III 2023/PA)

“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,” the King said.

“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.”

His written message was signed Charles R.

The Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to attend a special service in St Davids Cathedral in St Davids, west Wales, according to reports, in memory of the Queen on an emotional day for the royal family.

Anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II
The King’s message on his accession day (His Majesty King Charles III 2023/PA)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute to the late Queen, reflecting on her legacy.

“With the perspective of a year, the scale of Her Late Majesty’s service only seems greater,” he said.

“Her devotion 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.”

Mr Sunak said he treasured his memories of meeting the Queen and was struck by her “wisdom, by her incredible warmth and grace”, but also her “sharp wit”.

“People across the UK – 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,” he added.

The Braemar Gathering highland games
The King, who is staying at Balmoral, thanked the nation for the support shown to him and Camilla (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Former prime minister Liz Truss has spoken about her final encounter with the late Queen, describing how the “upbeat” and frail but “mentally alert” monarch told her they would be “meeting again soon”.

The Queen had welcomed Ms Truss to her home in Aberdeenshire on September 6 2022 to appoint her as prime minister.

“She was very, very keen to reassure me that we’d be meeting again soon. It was very important to her,” Ms Truss told GB News.

She added: “She was very determined to do her duty, right to the end.”

The Queen died two days later, with Ms Truss describing the scene as she waited in Downing Street when the confirmation came at around 4.30pm.

“We were in the Downing Street flat with, officials, other people. So when the news came through, it was sort of confirming all the worst fears that we’d had.”

Queen Elizabeth II death first anniversary
The Queen welcoming Liz Truss during her final official engagement at Balmoral (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Truss said she felt very sad, but her mind also turned to the practicalities of the days to come.

“You know, part of your brain is thinking, ‘my goodness me, this is a momentous occasion. This is our Queen who’s been on the throne for 70 years, the absolute backdrop to our lives is now gone’,” she said.

“But, also, I tend to focus on the practical in those types of moments and just thinking ‘right, I need to make sure my speech is ready. I need to make sure the right people are informed’.”

She recalled the King was “very, very resolute” when she spoke to him to express her condolences on the phone the day his mother died and his reign began.

Charles has been staying at his Birkhall residence and Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire over the summer.

Queen Elizabeth II death first anniversary
Charles leads mourners behind the Queen’s coffin (Danny Lawson/PA)

He is not expected to have time in his diary to see his son the Duke of Sussex, who flew to London for a WellChild award ceremony on Thursday ahead of the start of the Invictus Games in Germany.

Harry paid tribute to his grandmother in his speech at the event, saying: “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.”

Soldiers and horses who took part in the state funeral procession and proclamation salutes signifying the new reign are to return to perform Accession Day gun anniversary salutes in the King’s honour on Friday.

WellChild Awards 2023 – London
The Duke of Sussex giving a speech at the annual WellChild Awards (Yui Mok/PA)

Captain Amy Cooper – who was the lead rider in the procession which carried the Queen’s coffin to lie in state in Westminster Hall – will give the order to fire a 41-gun salute at midday in London’s Hyde Park.

Almost all of the King’s Troop riding out – in their distinctive dress uniform of gold braided jackets and busby hats accompanied by the Band of the Grenadier Guards – played a role in the final farewell to the Queen a year ago.

A 62-gun salute will also be fired at the Tower of London by The Honourable Artillery Company – with the regiment and the King’s Troop both responsible for gun salutes following the death of the late monarch.

Bells will be rung at Westminster Abbey at 1pm in commemoration of the King’s accession.