King Charles III has pledged to “always seek the welfare of our country” as he addressed the nationalist-led Scottish Parliament for the first time as monarch.
In a brief ceremony at Holyrood – a condolence offering for the Queen’s death at Balmoral last week – the king said his mother “found in the hills of this land and in the hearts of her people, a refuge and a home”.
Charles said he mourned a life of “incomparable service” but, he said, would try to follow his mother’s “inspiring example” of public duty.
“I take up my new duties with gratitude for all that Scotland has given me,” said the King. “Resolutely always to seek the welfare of our country and its people, and wholeheartedly trusting in your good will and good counsel as we move this work forward together.”
His appearance was part of a highly emotional day for the King, which began at Westminster with a speech to MPs and peers with a similar pledge of “selfless duty”.
In Edinburgh several hours later, he had walked more than a kilometer through the medieval old town behind the Queen’s hearse, from the royal family’s official home in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to the service at St Giles’ Cathedral. The Queen’s coffin will lie in state at the cathedral overnight until late Tuesday afternoon to allow mourners and well-wishers to pay their respects.
With former first ministers and former presiding officers watching from the public gallery, including Alex Salmond, Lord Steel and Lord McConnell, the King said he knew the Scottish parliament and people “share with me a deep sense of sadness at the death of my beloved mother.”
He announced that the former Scottish title of Duke of Rothesay would now pass to his son, Prince William.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said the Queen’s death was a moment of “deep sadness” for many Scots. He had set an “excellent example for us all.” The Queen had offered her “words of wisdom, advice and humor that will stay with me for the rest of my life” during their private audiences at Balmoral.
The Scottish government, led by Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party in partnership with the pro-independence and democratic Scottish Greens, hopes to hold a second independence referendum next year.
Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvey, a junior minister in Sturgeon’s government, appeared to hint at that goal when he urged the King to preside over a period of radical political and social change as monarch alongside “extraordinary progressive change”. appeared during the queen’s reign.
Harvey, who did not attend the coronation of King Charles at Holyrood on Sunday, avoided any direct reference to his party’s republicanism. “As King Charles III begins his reign, let us hope, indeed redouble our resolve, that he will have the opportunity to see change as transformative and more,” Harvey said. “Necessary.”
In an anecdote that drew laughter from the King, Sturgeon recalled a dinner at Balmoral when the lights in the room began to flicker. Her husband, Peter Murrell, suddenly bolted from his chair to stop a young corgi, Sandy, from eating an electrical wire.
In 2014, he took a long journey on the new Borders rail line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank exclusively in the company of the Queen and Prince Philip. This was “one of the greatest privileges of my life”, Sturgeon said.