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Cheers and tears as crowds sing Long Live the King while mourning his mother

© PAThe Duchess of Sussex speaks to a young well-wisher outside Windsor Castle last night as she joins her husband Harry and the Prince and Princess of Wales to thank the crowds for their support
The Duchess of Sussex speaks to a young well-wisher outside Windsor Castle last night as she joins her husband Harry and the Prince and Princess of Wales to thank the crowds for their support

King Charles arrived at Buckingham Palace yesterday after formally becoming the nation’s sovereign as thousands gathered outside to greet him and mourn his mother.

His arrival at the palace as King came after proclamations of his accession to the throne outside St James’s Palace at 11am and later in the City of London.

Crowds gathered at the city’s Royal Exchange at noon as the second reading of the Accession Proclamation was met with applause and cheers.

They sang God Save The King, then gave three cheers for Charles.

Chrissie Ellis, 61, from north London, said it was extraordinary to see history being made. She added: “I feel very privileged to have seen it. It’s just getting used to saying King instead of Queen.

“You’re so used to singing about the Queen. That’s what I’ve been brought up with and known all my life. It felt strange but also momentous and historic.”

King Charles III waves to crowds on the drive to Buckingham Palace after being officially proclaimed sovereign (Pic: Peter MacDiarmid/Shutterstock)

At around 1pm, King Charles returned to Buckingham Palace following the historic meeting of the Accession Council at St James’s Palace.

He smiled and waved to the cheering crowds from a limousine, flying the royal standard, as it drove through the gates.

Later, Prince William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan were united in grief as they jointly appeared outside Windsor Castle to read tributes to the late Queen and speak to members of the public. The brothers displayed their solidarity, putting aside their differences to honour their grandmother.

Harry and Meghan stepped down from frontline royal duties two years ago as they left for California while making a series of allegations against the royal family, including accusations of racism. But, shortly before 6pm, the large crowd applauded as both couples viewed the flowers and written tributes. Kate crouched down at one moment to comfort a crying child.

Meghan was also seen shaking the hands of several children and well-wishers. It is thought to be the first time the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in public together since Commonwealth Day in 2020. Earlier, the second reading of the proclamation in the City of London was performed by Timothy Duke, the Clarenceux King of Arms, in front of the Lord Mayor and other city officials.

It formally announced the death of the Queen and proclaimed the succession of the King. Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards stood to attention as the proclamation was read out.

Among the crowds in London was Emily White, 34, from Canada. She said: “It was amazing. I got here at 11.59am, so I got here right as it just started. There was an incredible feeling in the crowd. It was such a solemn moment. You really felt that a next era was starting.

“Everyone is still adjusting but it was an exciting moment, ready for the next generation to start. I watched the ceremony this morning at St James’s. Hearing it said this morning, Charles III, it was very moving.”

Cricket fans sang God Save The King ahead of the resumption of the third Test between England and South Africa at the Kia Oval.

A minute’s silence was also held. Friday’s play was called off as a mark of respect but the green light was given for all international, domestic and recreational cricket fixtures from yesterday.

Soprano Laura Wright sang the national anthems of both South Africa and England, with a sell-out crowd joining in. It was believed to be one of the first renditions of God Save The King at a televised sporting event in 70 years.

All players and coaches wore black armbands while there was no branded advertising by the boundary edge.

Well-wishers gather at the palace (Pic: Lafargue Raphael/ABACA/Shutterstock)

Meanwhile, the proclamation of the new sovereign was greeted with gun salutes around the world. Guns were fired at the Tower of London and Hyde Park to mark the occasion.

Sixty-two rounds were fired near Tower Bridge beside the River Thames by the Honourable Artillery Company, while 41 rounds were fired beside Park Lane by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

The Honourable Artillery Company, in ceremonial dress, were seen driving in liveried Pinzgauer vehicles through the City of London.

They travelled with police escort to the Thames riverbank where their guns were positioned facing HMS Belfast.At the Tower of London, a royal salute comprising the traditional 21 rounds, another 21 rounds signifying the loyalty of the City of London to the Crown, and a final 20 rounds were fired, as the tower is a royal palace and fortress.

Shouts of “long live the King” were heard as spectators watched the display.

Salutes were also fired from Edinburgh Castle, Cardiff Castle, Gibraltar, Colchester, York, Larkhill near Stonehenge, naval bases in Devonport and Portsmouth, and a number of stations at sea.

World leaders sent congratulatory messages to the new King. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, wished him “a successful and glorious reign”.

King Felipe VI of Spain wrote: “On the auspicious occasion of the proclamation of your accession to the throne, I wish to extend to your Majesty, on my behalf and on behalf of the Spanish Government and people, our sincere congratulations.”

Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama wrote to the King offering his congratulations. He said: “I am confident that you will fulfil this great responsibility with kindness and affection, dedicated to the service of others.”

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin was among those to send congratulations. A statement said: “Please accept my sincere congratulations on your accession to the throne. I wish Your Majesty success, good health and all the best.”

Meanwhile, tributes continued to build up at Windsor Castle as the town mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth II.

Nicholas Ewings, 54, from Farnborough, Hampshire, said: “We just wanted to come down, pay our respects and be part of the moment. We care and miss her forever.

“I think we’ll hear from (Charles) more, which I think is a great thing. He’s a top chap. He’s our King and I stand behind him.”

His son, Ethan, 19, said: “I’ve only ever had one queen and now it’s changing to a king. I was at work when I heard the news and I was upset.”

Jenny Woolford, 60, from Wokingham, visited to pay her respects. She said she was impressed by the King’s first televised address on Friday night.

She said: “It was absolutely brilliant, very moving. I think he’ll carry on in his mum’s path as he’s been trained to, but I also think he’ll find his own way.

“You can’t help but be impressed by him. He’ll be a good King.”

Coldstream guards cheer after the proclamation at St James’s Palace (Pic: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Mike Thompson, 69, from Staines, was born in Kenya just months before the Queen’s coronation and saw the monarch in person when she visited his school.

He remembered: “She visited Runnymede to plant a tree and we marched out from our school just to line up in the reception area.

“A child in my class was waiting with some daffodils and the Queen stopped in front of the girl and took some flowers from her. It was quite a special moment for me.”