Carlos III offered to serve with “loyalty, respect and love” to all Britons

“No man is an island; someone’s death affects me; for I am united with all mankind; therefore never ask for whom the bell tolls; they double for you,” wrote John Donne in the poem that gives Ernest Hemingway’s novel its title. But he was wrong. Yesterday the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and churches in London and across the country tolled only and exclusively for Queen Elizabeth, in some ways the world’s monarch, the gold standard of royalty after seventy years on the throne in which the world has changed so much. so much so that it is almost unrecognizable.

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They were to her too, and nothing more than to her, the ninety-six cannon shots that at noon rang out in Hyde Park, the Tower of London, Edinburgh Castles, Cardiff, and Hillsborough Castles in Belfast, in York, Portsmouth, Gibraltar, and even in such distant places. such as Canberra, the Australian capital. The same goes for the thousands of bouquets of flowers (roses, peonies, tulips…) left at the entrance to Buckingham Palace and Balmoral Castle (where his mortal remains still lie), the notes of love and gratitude and the tears from both locals, and by tourists, in an atmosphere of mourning reminiscent of the one after the death of Diana a quarter of a century ago, but in a different way, without the hysteria, the anger, the conspiracy theories and the need to blame someone (Carlos, the paparazzi, the intelligence services, Dodi Al Fayed …).

“My dear mother, Isabelle, has been an example and an inspiration to the whole family throughout her life”

But it is already known that when a king is dead, a king is installed. Charles III returned to London from Scotland, accompanied by Queen Consort Camilla. He arrived at the palace in a Bentley, the car of the aristocracy, and had the time and patience to shake hands with about a hundred people, of all races and ages, people, adults and parents with babies, a microcosm of the multiracial society that is Britain, with the addition of visitors from the United States and from the Commonwealth Territories, which also consider the United Kingdom monarchy to be somehow their own. global monarchy. A man greeted him with the typical Hindu gesture of clasping hands and bowing his head, and he responded in kind. He allowed himself to be hugged and kissed by a lady, something that would never happen to his mother, while the bodyguards wondered how long this rock star walk would last. In the background, a rumor that said God save the king, God save the king … God save the king.

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A supporter kisses the hand of King Charles III during a walk outside Buckingham Palace, London, to view messages and tributes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.

Mourning and grief aside, it was obvious that King Charles III was enjoying the moment, a moment he had been waiting for all his life, as long as he knew the reason (he had been Prince of Wales for fifty-three years and heir to the crown for seventy) and that many times he must have thought (or feared) that he would never arrive. A lot of time for rehearsals, for calibrating what he wanted to say and do, the gestures he wanted to convey, like the Hollywood actor who dreams of winning an Oscar, or the writer who aspires to the Nobel Prize and prepares his speech in front of the mirror .

“Over seventy years we have seen British society become one of many religions and cultures”

When he finally got rid of the crowd’s affection, he put his arm around his beloved Camilla’s shoulder to walk through the gates of Buckingham Palace for the first time as a king and receive an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss, almost as if the position was new as he did ( he was sworn in on Tuesday), spoke about the events of the next few days, preparations for the funeral and, even if it was exaggerated, the challenges facing the nation with the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and the cost of living, the threat of recession, inequality and social breakdown . In tribute to Elizabeth II, transport strikes planned for the coming days and demonstrations by environmental groups planned for the weekend in Hyde Park have been called off. There will be no football day (a very dubious decision), although there will be rugby and cricket. Theaters continue with their shows, but Netflix has announced that it is stopping filming on the fifth season of The crown .

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Artwork by Jamie Rair, made in homage to the Sex Pistols'

In central London yesterday was one of those days where history feels as if you can touch it with your fingers or be a part of it. The late Queen’s face graced the big screen in Piccadilly Circus, usually dedicated to advertising, and hundreds of people with bouquets of flowers in hand arrived from Green Park, Victoria or Westminster tube stations. But in streets like Finchley Road or neighborhoods like Swiss Cottage or West Hampstead, someone fresh from the moon would hardly know that the country was in mourning or that something extraordinary had just happened. The cityscape consisted of people going to and from work, going in and out of shops, with no one commenting on Isabelle’s death. This visitor would have to be very observant to wonder why the picture of the monarch adorns bus stops or in the garden of some house the Union Jack flew in half.

“I pledge to respect the traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our parliamentary political system”

Late in the afternoon, Carlos III addressed the nation for the first time as king with a recorded message that was broadcast at the same time over the loudspeakers of St Paul’s Cathedral, where two thousand people – including Prime Minister Truss, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and members of his cabinet – attended a religious service “of prayer and remembrance” of Elizabeth II. It was a sweeping speech in which he expressed his determination to “serve the whole world with loyalty, love and the utmost respect for our history and for the traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our parliamentary system of government”. “I solemnly undertake – he said – to respect the constitutional principles which are the pillar of the nation”. And he insisted that as well as being head of the Church of England, he wanted to represent “all the religions and cultures of a changing society”.

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An image from the interrupted filming of The Corona in Barcelona this Friday morning.

The speech was short, but the incoming king hit all the bases. He called Camilla his “great pillar in the seventeen years we’ve been married”, expressed his “love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives abroad” and passed the Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales titles to William, with whom have long created the tandem that is at the head of the House of Windsor. And to his “kind mother, “inspiration and example” he bids farewell with the wish that “flights of angels sing to him wherever he rests”, a quote from Hamlet.

“It’s clear that my life will change and I won’t be able to devote as much time and energy to the causes I’m passionate about”

Throughout the day, messages of condolence poured in from around the world. From US President Joe Biden (“Queen Elizabeth has been a source of comfort and pride for generations”) and even from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who expressed “respect for her wisdom and authority on the world stage.” French leader Macron signed a book of condolence at the UK embassy in Paris, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the deceased a “witness and author of British and European history”.

The second Elizabethan era ended and that of Charles III began, for whom quite a few problems awaited him with open arms, such as the publication of Enrique’s explosive memoirs, the opaque finances of his foundation, the growing republicanism in Australia, Jamaica and other countries where he still is head of state, Andres’ sex scandals, his discreet level of popularity, the desire of half the Scots to become independent… It was his day. But the bells tolled for the last time for Isabel II and for her alone.

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