However much the Queen’s death was anticipated, the news from Balmoral on 8 September 2022 came as a shock to the world. Suddenly the United Kingdom and Commonwealth had lost a vital unifying factor: the Queen had bestowed a mesmerising atmosphere of calm on a fast-changing world. Along with the shock of losing the Queen, the other question was how well the new King would cope as he stepped into his mother’s shoes.
Reassurance came swiftly the following evening in the King’s inspirational address to the nation. He has made many speeches in the past, but this was unquestionably his best. It is as moving to read today as it was to hear when he delivered it from Buckingham Palace that night. Besides paying full tribute to his mother, he set the parameters for the nascent reign, and in the year that has followed, he has faithfully adhered to his pledges.
Doubts had been expressed frequently as to whether he could adapt from being a proactive Prince of Wales, stirring things up when he saw the need, to the more circumspect role of a constitutional monarch. In his address, he renewed his own promise of lifelong service. In particular he addressed the key issues – his deeply rooted faith in the Church of England and his understanding of the need “to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation”. He realised that he would no longer be able to speak out about the causes and issues to which he had devoted his energies in the past.