King Charles III on Thursday succeeded his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, describing her death as a moment of great sadness.
Charles, 73, had been next in line to the throne for seven decades – by a distance the longest wait in the history of the British monarchy.
But a new, inevitably shorter, chapter of Charles’s life will begin as he in the coming days faces the twin challenges of personal bereavement and leading the nation in mourning.
The focus of attention was squarely on the family as the Queen’s children and grandchildren gathered around her and the Duke of Cambridge, who was in line to become the Prince of Wales and first in line to the throne, rushed from Berkshire to Balmoral.
The Queen’s second son, the Duke of York (who remains stripped of royal duties over his links to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein), and the Earl and Countess of Wessex were on the same RAF plane as the Duke of Cambridge, which touched down in Aberdeen just before 4pm, the Guardian UK reported.
It was only in April 2021 that Charles lost his father, Prince Philip, who died aged 99 at Windsor Castle.
In June, he gave a very personal address to his “mummy” at a celebration of her platinum jubilee outside Buckingham Palace. “You laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years,” he said before looking forward in hope that they could celebrate one of her horses winning the Derby next summer.
Charles will take over a role meant to represent stability in times of change, at a time of great political and social flux. But with decades of active duty as the Prince of Wales behind him he will hope to rise to that task. Not least, despite his age he will represent a different generation to the Queen, becoming the first British monarch to have gone to school.