The king traveled to London early Friday, after being at his mother’s bedside at her Scottish estate Balmoral during her final hours. He is expected to speak at 6 p.m. local time. The nation has not heard a king give a speech since the mid-20th century, but received brief comments from him when he arrived at crowds in London.
“Thank you so much, it’s so kind, it really is,” King Charles III, 73, told mourners and well-wishers. “God bless you.”
Though the British monarchy is largely ceremonial, the beloved, late queen was seen as a leader and an inspiration throughout her life, especially in times of political and cultural turmoil. The news of her death reverberated across the world, prompting condolences from many heads of state who never knew a time before she was queen.
The British public, likewise, went out in droves to pay respects at Buckingham Palace. A Daily Wire reporter on-scene estimated that thousands of people were outside the palace gates within an hour of the announcement the queen had died. Many brought flowers, and others openly sobbed.
“Everyone here, as long as they’ve been in this country, majority of them have known the queen to be there,” said Mark, 26, who declined to give his last name. “So for it to come to an end today is pretty upsetting.”
“With her spans the history of modern Britain and everything it stands for,” another man told The Daily Wire.
London is now bracing for a 10-day mourning period and a transition it hasn’t seen in seven decades. The queen’s body will remain in Scotland briefly, but will soon be brought back to London. Senior members of the British government will soon swear their loyalty to the new king.
Olga Benacerraf contributed reporting from London.