UK marks first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death
Written by Adeola Ibrahim on September 8, 2023
Britain’s King Charles III on Friday thanked the public for their support in his first year as monarch, as he marked the one-year anniversary of the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
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.
Commemorations will be low key on Friday, with the king — who is at his sprawling Scottish Highland estate of Balmoral — not expected at any official engagement.
He and wife Camilla will attend nearby Crathie Kirk, the late queen’s place of worship, for private prayers and a moment of reflection.
His mother, who was on the throne for a record-breaking 70 years, died at Balmoral aged 96 after a period of declining health.
Throughout her reign she did not publicly mark her accession, as it was also the anniversary of her own father King George VI’s death in 1952.
Last year, when she began her Platinum Jubilee year on February 6, she spent the day in private at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England.
– Gun salutes –
In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will mark Charles’s accession by firing a 41-gun ceremonial salute in Hyde Park from 12:00 pm (1100 GMT).
Members of the Honourable Artillery Company — the oldest regiment in the British Army — will fire a 62-gun salute from the Tower of London from 1:00 pm.
Both regiments were involved in firing the Death Gun salutes to mark the queen’s death, and the Proclamation salutes to mark Charles’s new reign.
The king’s eldest son and heir, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine, will commemorate the anniversary with a small private service at St Davids Cathedral in west Wales.
William’s estranged younger brother, Prince Harry, was in the UK for a charity event on Thursday but was not expected to meet members of his family.
“As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away,” Harry told the charity event.
“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.”
Relations between Harry and his father and brother have been strained since he and his wife, Meghan, quit royal life and moved to North America in 2020.
Ties have been frayed further by their criticisms of the family in television interviews, a docuseries and Harry’s autobiography.
– Memorial –
Elizabeth II’s death was a seismic event in British life. For most Britons alive, the queen was the only monarch and head of state they had ever known.
During the 10-day official mourning period, tens of thousands of people queued for up to 25 hours to file past her flag-shrouded coffin as it lay in state in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament.
Even more packed the streets of London and the route west to Windsor Castle for the state funeral, which was beamed around the world to a television audience of millions.
The queen was interred in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, Windsor, alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died in 2021, her father and mother and the ashes of her younger sister, Princess Margaret.
Earlier this week, the government announced that a national memorial to the late monarch will be commissioned “in due course”.
In London on 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.
But despite 161 official engagements and tours of all four nations of the United Kingdom, 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.”