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One of the strangest parts about the monarchy is this: the work of King Charles III’s life, the work he has been preparing to do for over 73 years as heir to the throne, is fully contingent and distinctly paralleled with one of the greatest losses of his life, the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who died peacefully at Balmoral Castle on Thursday.
So, as the new King ascends to the throne and all of the duties that requires, he is simultaneously in deep mourning, devastated over the loss of a mother he adored. Surrounding him in these early days are son Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, and wife Camilla, Queen Consort, who Us Weekly reports Charles is depending on as he navigates the role he’s trained his entire life for while also grappling with deep grief.
“King Charles calls Camilla his ‘tower of strength,’” an insider tells the outlet. “[He] says she makes him a better man. This is obviously a challenging time for him as he transitions into a new era without his beloved mother, and he’s incredibly emotional.”
The role of monarch passed immediately to Charles upon the Queen’s death Thursday. Charles was able to be at his mother’s bedside when she passed, and remained with Camilla at Balmoral until Friday, when the couple stepped out to greet well-wishers outside of Buckingham Palace upon their return to London.
“[Charles] knows he’ll never outshine the Queen and doesn’t expect to, but he does plan to make a difference in his own, unique way,” the insider tells Us Weekly, adding that the new King has been “working closely with Prince William in a slimmed-down monarchy.”
Later on Friday, the King made his first speech as the new monarch, where he officially announced Camilla’s new title of Queen Consort and declared William and wife Kate the new Prince and Princess of Wales. Also during the address, Charles expressed love for his younger son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, as they “continue to build their lives overseas,” a moment royal expert Gareth Russell told Us Weekly was an “olive branch” to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex amidst ongoing royal tensions.
Also in his address, Charles extended the U.K.’s mourning period for the Queen, from now until seven days after Her Majesty’s upcoming funeral, the date of which has not yet been announced. As a part of the mourning period, the U.K. will pause comedy programs on television and see flags flown at half-mast.
A second insider tells Us Weekly that, while the “royals knew that Elizabeth’s end was near,” the family is “struggling to come to terms” with the reality of her death. While Charles and William are balancing their new royal duties with their mourning, Harry in particular is especially upset about his beloved grandmother’s death, the source says.
“Harry is guilt-stricken—full of sorrow and regret about not saying goodbye to the Queen,” the source says. (Harry arrived at Balmoral on Thursday after the Queen had already passed away.) “They met up a couple of times during the Platinum Jubilee, but he by no means expected it to be the last time he saw her.” The source adds “he loved his grandmother with all his heart and is going through a terrible time right now. The news hasn’t fully sunk in.”
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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