‘To my darling Mama’: King’s speech shows Charles will wear his heart on his sleeve

It was the speech he has waited a lifetime to deliver. Charles III’s own “King’s speech”.

A lifelong search for relevance has informed the kind of monarch he is to become. And in nine minutes the King has shown himself to be a monarch willing to wear his heart on his sleeve.

This was not just a head of state speaking to a nation for the first time – this was also a loving son, husband and father.

King Charles arriving at Buckingham Palace.Credit:Getty Images

It was one of the most remarkable personal speeches imaginable. He was stricken with grief, but at the same time, assured and positive. By his own stunning admission, he’d been dreading this moment all his life. He did not show it.

In the Blue Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, he sat in a dark suit with a checked pocket handkerchief at a sparse desk, with only a blotter, a silver salver and a small framed photo of the Queen in blue. He then opened his heart to the world.

“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 a ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.”

With a suitably Shakespearian send-off, tears welled in the new King’s eyes.

He was both deeply moving and comforting to a nation still in shock. Not only that, but he was clear in his knowledge that many around the world, too, were grieving.

In a carefully crafted yet seemingly effortless address, two things stood out. The first was that he will no longer be the outspoken figure he was, in a less than subtle nod he would steer clear of politically contentious issues.

“My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities,” he said, with a small swallow.

“It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others.”

Having advocated for environmental and climate causes for decades, the King has long raised eyebrows at his support that borders on activism. But rest assured he wants his son William, who he anointed as the new Prince of Wales, to continue with his passion.

Officially using the title for the first time since the death of his former wife Diana, 25 years ago last month, Charles declared: “Our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground where vital help can be given.”

The second point was the obvious olive branch to his youngest son and his wife when he expressed “my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas”.

It is clear the public feuding between his two sons has caused a significant amount of pain. He was said to have been “saddened” by a recent interview where Meghan said Harry felt he has “lost” his father.

But, in failing to use Harry and Meghan’s titles and referring to their future in the United States, it appeared he may have closed the door to any notion of the couple returning as working royals.

As he showed hours earlier, with a remarkable 10 minutes of personal and affectionate interaction with mourners outside the gates of the palace, he is prepared to allow himself a few moments of emotion.

He gave just a hint of a smile when he referenced his late mother’s sense of humour. He shook his head in something like disbelief when he recalled her lifelong devotion to duty.

“Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.”

It was as if the prospect of doing the same “in the time God grants me” could be anything but daunting. But as he takes on the considerable task of honouring his mother’s remarkable legacy, he left no one in any doubt of his own lifelong commitment to do his duty – with “loyalty, respect and love”.

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