King Charles III has vowed to uphold the nation’s “vital parliamentary traditions” in his first visit to parliament as the new monarch following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
“I cannot help but feel the weight of history which surrounds us and which reminds of the vital parliamentary traditions,” said the new King.
Referring to parliament as “the living and breathing instrument of our democracy”, he said the Queen had pledged to maintain “the precious principles of constitutional government that lie at the heart of our nation”.
Charles added: “This vow she kept with unsurpassed devotion. She set an example of selfless duty, which with God’s help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle expressed MPs’ “heartfelt sympathy” with the King for the loss of the Queen, saying it was loss felt by the nation, Commonwealth and the world.
Sir Lindsay described the late sovereign as a “symbol of stability in an ever-changing world” – and said MPs knew that the King held “the greatest respect” for parliamentary government.
Lords Speaker Lord McFall paid tribute to the “treasured” Queen. Pledging peers’ loyalty to Charles and said “we are proud and indeed humbled to welcome you as our King”.
The King thanked MPs and peers, saying: “I am deeply grateful for the addresses of condolence.” He said the addresses “touchingly encompass what our late sovereign, my beloved mother the Queen, meant to us all”.
The ceremony was attended by MPs – including the new prime minister Liz Truss – peers and members from the legislatures of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, taking place in the oldest part of parliament, Westminster Hall.
Ms Truss will support the King by joining him at “services of reflection” in Scotland later on Monday, before joining him at services in Northern Ireland and Wales later this week as part of the 10-day mourning period.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said Ms Truss believed it was “important to be present” at the services, but No 10 later pushed back against suggestions the PM was accompanying Charles “on tour”.
Charles will lead the royal family in a poignant procession behind the coffin of his mother when it travels to an Edinburgh cathedral this afternoon to allow the public to pay their respects.
The Queen will be taken to St Giles’ Cathedral where her family will attend a service of thanksgiving for her life. Charles will later meet Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and receive a motion of condolence at the Scottish parliament.
It comes as Prince Harry makes his first public comment since her death, paying an emotional tribute to his “granny” and saying she would be sorely missed not just by the family, but the world over.
And mourners coming to London to pay their respects to the Queen as she lies in state in Westminster Hall from Wednesday have been warned to expect exceptionally long queues and wait times.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle addresses King Charles III
Though a constitutional monarch must remain politically neutral, Charles’s role will consist of holding regular audiences with the PM and assenting to bills passed by parliament. Royal Assent has not been refused since 1707.
The King has vowed to step back from the “issues” he has campaigned on in his previous role. David Cameron, former Tory PM, has said he thought it was “entirely right” for Charles to have written to ministers with his views when he was the Prince of Wales.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cameron said the so-called “spider memos” of letters to ministers on various issues from herbal medicine to badger culls – which were released in 2015 after a lengthy legal battle – should have stayed private.
“I never felt he tried to influence me improperly in any way,” he told the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme. “I think the heir to the throne has a perfect right to have an interest in issues like the environment, preserving wildlife, his interest in the built environment.”
Mr Cameron added: “I think it is entirely right that the heir to the throne can discuss things with politicians. Why not? I don’t think there should be any public concern about that, and my view is the letters should have remained private.”
Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown said Britain could become more like a “Scandinavian monarchy” – saying he expected Charles to perform his duties in a less formal way as part of a slimmed-down royal family.