Ceremonial gunfire went out across the United Kingdom on Friday to honor King Charles III’s ascension, as he paid respect to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on the first anniversary of her death.
In London’s Hyde Park, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun Accession salute, followed by a 62-gun salute from the Tower of London.
Guns were also fired from the Scottish capital’s Edinburgh Castle, Cardiff Castle in Wales, and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.
The king, who is at his enormous Scottish Highland estate of Balmoral, is not anticipated to attend any official engagements in honor of the queen’s death on Friday.
In a short statement, the 74-year-old British head of state recalled the “great affection” for his mother, her life and public service.
“I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all,” he added.
He and wife Camilla attended Crathie Kirk, the late monarch’s place of worship near Balmoral, for private prayers and a moment of reflection.
Charles, dressed in a red tartan kilt, talked to well-wishers outside the church after the event.
“I saw the funeral procession go past last year, it’s a sad day for everyone,” Ross Nichol, a 22-year-old student from nearby Ballater, told AFP.
“She did a lot of good things and she had a standing in the world,” added German tourist Nicole Hoppe.
“We feel a little bit sad and sentimental for her.”
The queen, having reigned for a record-breaking 70 years, died on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96, at Balmoral, following a period of worsening health.
Flowers were laid at the gates of Balmoral, and floral tributes were also left at Buckingham Palace.
Throughout her reign, the queen did not officially commemorate her accession because it coincided with the death anniversary of her own father, King George VI, in 1952.
‘We All Miss You’
In other news, Prince William, the king’s eldest son and heir, and his wife, Catherine, celebrated the occasion with a modest private service at St David’s Cathedral in west Wales.
The couple posted a message on social media platform X, saying: “Today we remember the extraordinary life and legacy of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We all miss you. W & C”.
Prince Harry, William’s estranged younger brother, was in the UK for a charity event and was spotted visiting his grandmother’s final resting place at Windsor Castle on Friday.
“As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away,” Harry told the charity event on Thursday evening.
“She would have been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her, and that’s precisely why I know exactly one year on that she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we’re together.”
The death of Elizabeth II was a watershed moment in British history. The queen was the only monarch and head of state most Britons had ever known.
Thousands of people lined for up to 25 hours to file past her flag-draped coffin as it lay in state in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament during the 10-day formal mourning period.
The streets of London and the drive west to Windsor Castle were even more congested for the state burial, which was broadcast live across the world to millions of viewers.
The queen was laid to rest with her late husband, Prince Philip, who died in 2021, her father and mother, and the ashes of her younger sister, Princess Margaret, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor.
The administration declared earlier this week that a national memorial to the late monarch will be built “in due course.”
In London Thursday, there were mixed views about Charles’s first year.
Some felt he had been right not to introduce sweeping reform too early. “He’s got a hard act to follow but he will I think change things,” Joanne Hughes, 61, told AFP outside Buckingham Palace.
Others were indifferent about the new king — and the monarchy in general.
“The monarchy is dying,” said nursing student Mimi Jaffer-Clarke.
“If he wants it to not die, then he needs to try to get the younger generation to like him — and we just don’t.”