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King Charles honors his late mother in first public address: ‘We owe her the most heartfelt debt’

King Charles III, the former Prince of Wales, addresses Britain in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
/ Source: TODAY

King Charles III, now Britain’s new monarch, delivered a prerecorded address Sept. 9 following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

One day after the public learned that the 96-year-old queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Charles’ televised message spoke of remembrance and honor — and of a new era for Britain.

The 73-year-old spoke of his late mother, saying, "The affection, admiration and respect she spanned became the hallmark of her reign. And as every member of my family would testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humor and an unerring ability always to see the best in people."

The Nation Mourns The Death Of Queen Elizabeth II
Children watch the first public address by Britain's King Charles III on television.Anthony Devlin / Getty Images

“In her life of service, we saw that abiding love of tradition,” Charles said. “Together with that fearless embrace, the progress which makes us great as a nation.”

Charles went on to speak of the changes to come as king, adding that his wife, Camilla, is now queen consort, as Elizabeth had said was her "sincere wish" earlier this year. He also revealed Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, have new titles and are now the Prince and Princess of Wales, while also inheriting his and Camilla's former titles of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.

Charles acknowledged his mother's death "brings great sadness" to many around the world. "I share that sense of loss beyond measure with you all," he said, then later on addresses his mother directly.

"To my darling mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late papa, I want simply to say this: Thank you. Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May flights of angels sing to thy rest," he said.

Charles said in his first statement as king on Sept. 8 the death of his mother is a moment of “the greatest sadness” for him and his family.

“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother,” Charles said in the statement. “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout 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,” he continued.

The crowning of a new monarch is the first such event witnessed by most Britons alive today. That’s because Elizabeth held the throne for more than 70 years, longer than any other monarch in the nation's history, a feat that was celebrated earlier this year with a Platinum Jubilee.

The public first learned that Elizabeth was ill early in the day on Sept. 8, when Buckingham Palace released a rare and candid statement about the beloved royal’s health. 

“Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” the statement read.

Many members of Elizabeth's family, including both Charles and Prince William, who's now next in line for the throne, gathered to be with her for what proved to be her final hours.

Charles will be proclaimed king on Sept. 10 by the Accession Council at St. James's Palace in London.