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Charles is formally declared king as the nation mourns his mother's death


RICHARD TILBROOK: Beseeching God by whom kings and queens do reign to bless His Majesty with long and happy years to reign over us. God save the king.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: God save the king.


From the ceremony earlier today at St. James's Palace in London, which officially proclaimed Charles as king - it's part of the royal traditions that, of course, date back many centuries. NPR's Philip Reeves joins us now from Edinburgh. Thanks very much for being with us, Phil.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: You're welcome.

SIMON: Tell us about that ceremony at St. James's, please.

REEVES: That was part of what's called the Declaration of the King. Ceremony was held at St. James's Palace, as you mentioned. It's just a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. What's called the Accession Council met there. It's a ceremonial body comprising the high and mighty prime minister, senior clergy, judges. They met with King Charles to go through what is essentially the legal business of transferring the Crown, according to ancient and elaborate ritual and law. And the ceremony concluded with the declaration being read from the balcony by a member of the royal staff. There were volleys of trumpets and gun salutes. All of this was televised - the whole meeting was televised - so we got a peek into a world that stretches way, way back through history.

SIMON: Of course, King Charles made his first address to the nation as king yesterday. He spoke about his love for his mother, praised her lifelong service, really, to the country and pledged the same on his part. From what you can tell, how has that been received by the British public that has known him since he was born, really?

REEVES: Yes, indeed. And I mean, from what I've seen here, it - very favorably is the answer to that question. I mean, a lot of people think the speech was heartfelt and intimate. They love that he thanked his mother so emotionally, you know, that he expressed love for her and for his family, including his son, Harry, and Harry's partner, Meghan. That was seen as an olive branch. Charles has at times, as you know, Scott, has been a bit of a figure of fun here over the years and, after the death of Princess Diana, the target of anger. But the mood has now changed dramatically. People are beginning to speak very positively about him, remembering, for one thing, that he was one of the first senior figures around the world to raise alarm over climate change.

SIMON: Phil, help us understand what it's like there. There seems to be just a tremendous outpouring of people who believe something has affected their lives.

REEVES: I mean, Scott, it's quite remarkable to witness this. I mean, if you stand back and look at it - I knew it was going to be a very huge blow to this country, but the scale of the response to that, the grief is bigger than most people expected. And I think we have to put this in context. This country, like everywhere else, has been through a pandemic in which many people were unable to mourn their dead. It's going through a very rough economic patch. And I think we're seeing some of that emotion kind of connecting with the general grieving about the loss of Queen Elizabeth.

SIMON: Phil, what's ahead in the week to come for mourning and memorial?

REEVES: We're expecting the queen's coffin to be brought from her home in Balmoral in the north of Scotland here to Edinburgh. And it will be carried in procession up the Royal Mile through the heart of the Old City to St. Charles's Cathedral, where she will lie in state. And then early next week, she'll be taken to London to lie in state at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament. And the funeral will be on the 19th.

SIMON: NPR's Philip Reeves in Edinburgh - thanks so much for being with us, Phil.

REEVES: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.