Prince Charles, known for his ecological fiber and his commitment to charity, became King Charles III on Thursday at the age of 73, systematically acceding to the British throne after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.
He was at the Queen’s bedside at her Scottish residence at Balmoral at the time of her death and chose to spend the night there before heading to London on Friday. In accordance with the rules in force, his accession to the British throne after 70 years of patience, a record in the history of the monarchy, came directly after the death of Elizabeth II.
Baptized at birth Charles Philip Arthur George, he could have taken any of these names and been called, for example, George VII. But his services confirmed on Thursday evening that he will be called Charles III.
The new King said the death of his mother was a moment of “greatest sadness” for him and for all his family members, ensuring, however, that the royal family will be comforted and supported by respect and deep concern. affection in which the Queen was so largely held.
Across the country, flags were flown at half-mast, while in Westminster an orchestra played ‘God Save the King’. As night fell, thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace to salute the monarchy.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss was the first to react to the Queen’s death and paid a moving tribute to her outside the steps of Downing Street. Dressed in black and speaking in a solemn tone, Ms. Truss did not fail to project herself into the future by indicating that today, “the Crown passes, as it has done for more than a thousand years , to our new monarch, our new Head of State, His Majesty King Charles III”.
The coronation ceremony of the new Sovereign should take place in the coming weeks, while his wife Camilla will become queen consort, in accordance with the wish expressed by Elizabeth II last February.
Born on November 14, 1948, Charles III had become, as the eldest son, the heir to the British crown at the age of three, when Princess Elizabeth, aged 25 at the time, became Queen on the death of his father George VI.
From his first official engagements in the 1970s, the role of the Prince of Wales has been to “support Her Majesty The Queen, as the focal point of national pride”.
In recent months, her role had taken on greater importance following the rarefaction of the Queen’s public appearances, due to the deterioration of her state of health. He had thus replaced her for one of her most important constitutional functions, by delivering the speech from the throne in her place last May.
A climate defender and champion of sustainable urban planning, he is best known for being the president of several hundred charities, including the main one, the Prince’s Trust, which has helped more than a million young people since its creation in 1976. in trouble.
Passionate about gardening, he opened an organic farm in 1985 with 300 hectares of land cultivated without pesticides. In 1988, he was one of the first to announce the end of his use of aerosols.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, he advocated for a green economy, stressing that to “secure our future and prosper, we must evolve our economic model and put people and the planet at the heart of a creation of global value”.
“If there is a key lesson to be learned from this crisis, it is that we must put nature at the heart of how we operate. We just can’t waste any more time,” he said. During his half century of social activism, he allowed himself here and there to deviate from the unfailing neutrality of the royal family by expressing his opinions on political questions. Last June, for example, The Times and the Daily Mail reported that he had criticized the government’s policy of outsourcing asylum claims to Rwanda, calling the practice “appalling”.
But when asked in an interview on the occasion of his 70th birthday if he would continue to “meddle” in politics when he becomes King, the Prince of Wales used a Shakespearian metaphor to explain that the heirs of the crown must change when they become sovereigns and that newly crowned monarchs must “play their part in the manner expected”.
Charles III will now have the difficult task of replacing his mother, ultra-popular with the British, who had shown dedication to the function until the end, by appointing Liz Truss as Prime Minister on Tuesday, two days before her death.