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King Charles III addresses parliament and promises to emulate the Queen’s example

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LONDON – Standing before a gilded lectern under the medieval wooden ceiling of Westminster Hall, King Charles III addressed both Houses of Parliament for the first time as sovereign and head of state of the United Kingdom on Monday, making referring to the “weight of history that surrounds us” and praising Parliament as “the living, breathing instrument of our democracy”.

The ceremony was important in cementing the relationship between the King and Parliament, where the real power lies with Britain’s constitutional monarchy.

The new King said he was “deeply grateful” for the condolences – offered by the Speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords – which “embrace so touchingly what our late Sovereign, my beloved mother, the queen meant to all of us”.

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He promised to “faithfully follow” his mother’s “example of selfless duty”.

“As Shakespeare says of Queen Elizabeth, she was ‘a role model for all living princes,'” said the king, who wore a black tailcoat, black waistcoat and gray pinstriped trousers. .

Charles attended the official opening of Parliament on several occasions alongside his mother. For the last overture, in May, he presided alone – although reading “the Queen’s Speech”.

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On Monday, his words were his own.

Around 900 Lords and Members of Parliament were present to watch the speech in Westminster Hall, built in 1097.

Monarchs are barred from entering the House of Commons at Westminster – a tradition dating back to the 17th century, when King Charles I tried to break in and wreak havoc.

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But the hall is a place of great importance, and speaking there is considered a special honor. Queen Elizabeth II was the last royal to do so, on her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the throne, in 2012. Barack Obama was the first US president to deliver a speech in the room, during a European trip in 2011. .

Charles gave his speech on Monday before launching a whirlwind tour of the UK, called “Operation Spring Tide”. He flew to Edinburgh, Scotland on Monday afternoon and will travel to Belfast on Tuesday. The man known as the Prince of Wales for 64 years will travel to Wales on Friday.

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Meanwhile, the Queen’s coffin will travel from Edinburgh to London, where the public can view the late monarch lying in state in Westminster Hall for four days, 24 hours a day.

While there were just two short speeches from lawmakers in Westminster on Monday, Parliament met in extraordinary session last week to offer tributes – highlighting the Queen’s dedication and duty, but also her spirit.

In arguably one of the best speeches of his career, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the Queen as ‘Elizabeth the Great’, the ‘person who by all surveys appears most often in our dreams’.

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He noted her humility: ‘I can tell you as a direct eyewitness that she drove herself in her own car, without detectives and without bodyguards, bouncing at alarming speed across the Scottish landscape in utter amazement hikers and tourists we met. ”

She was, he says, so “unchanging in her polestar radiance that we may have been lulled into thinking she might be somehow eternal”.

Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, shared a fun anecdote about spending time with the Queen, as all prime ministers do, at a picnic at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

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Everyone had been helping transfer the food from the baskets to the table when May accidentally dropped the cheese.

“I had a decision to make in a split second,” May said with a hoarse laugh. “I picked up the cheese, put it on the plate and put it on the table.”

“And I turned to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen. I looked at her, she looked at me and she just smiled.

Liz Truss, who last week became the Queen’s 15th Prime Minister, after meeting the Queen at Balmoral, said the Queen was the ‘rock on which modern Britain was built’.

correction

An earlier version of this story misrepresented the low and long monarchs who had been barred from the House of Commons. The tradition dates back to the 17th century. The article has been updated.

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