King gives thanks to nation for support and comfort ahead of Queen’s funeral

The King has issued a message of thanks to the nation ahead of the Queen’s state funeral.

Charles said he wanted, “as we all prepare to say our last farewell”, to offer his gratitude to “all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my Family and myself in this time of grief”.

He said he and the Queen Consort were “deeply touched” by the many messages they had received from around the world, and “moved beyond measure” by those who turned out to pay their respects throughout the UK to “my dear mother”.

Charles will lead the nation in mourning for its longest reigning monarch on Monday as Westminster Abbey stages a spectacular state funeral for Elizabeth II.

An unseen image of the Queen has been released on the eve of her funeral

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Two thousand people including foreign royals, world leaders, presidents and prime ministers will flock to the gothic church for a day of pageantry, military processions and solemnity in honour of the late Queen.

Charles said, in the written message issued by Buckingham Palace: “Over the last ten days, my wife and I have been so deeply touched by the many messages of condolence and support we have received from this country and across the world.

“In London, Edinburgh, Hillsborough and Cardiff we were moved beyond measure by everyone who took the trouble to come and pay their respects to the lifelong service of my dear mother, The late Queen.

“As we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my Family and myself in this time of grief.”

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King Charles III meeting wellwishers after attending a Service of Prayer and Reflection Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff

It came after the Queen Consort paid her own televised tribute, describing the Queen’s “wonderful blue eyes” but also how her gaze could be a little withering if you “dare question” her equestrian knowledge.

Buckingham Palace released an unseen portrait of the Queen smiling with joy on the eve of her funeral. The photograph, taken in May ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, shows the monarch beaming brightly at the camera in her Windsor Castle home.

The Queen Consort, who had known the monarch for decades, said the Queen had a clear demarcation between her public duties and private life and her summer breaks at Balmoral in Scotland were a moment for “her enjoyment”.

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Her tribute to her mother-in-law was aired on Sunday on the BBC, shortly before the national minute’s silence at 8pm.

Speaking about her wedding day on April 9 2005, the Queen Consort said: “I remember coming from here, Clarence House, (to) go to Windsor the day I got married when I probably wasn’t firing on all cylinders, quite nervous and, for some unknown reason, I put on a pair of shoes and one had an inch heel and one had a two-inch heel.

“So, I mean talk about hop-a-long and there’s nothing I could do. I was halfway down in the car before I realised and you know, she – she could see and laughed about it and said, ‘look I’m terribly sorry’ and she did, you know, she had a good sense of humour.”

The late monarch was never happier than when visiting her thoroughbreds at the royal stud or watching them race and Camilla commented on her “passion for racing”.

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The Queen Consort said: “She was able to escape to Sandringham. She had the stud next door. She could go every day, see her foals, work out you know, the next meetings for the year. I think she always kept that as you know, her, her private bit.

“You wouldn’t dare question her or argue with her on how horse are bred or how it ran because you’d get a very steely blue-eyed look back again.”

Camilla added: “She made a rule that she had her private time and her private passions and then her public role and I think that is very important that, you know, the diary is planned out so you know when you’re on duty and when you’ve got to do things.

“Then when she went up to Scotland in August, you know that was the moment where it was her enjoyment.

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“Although she was probably working, you know with her red boxes throughout, she could have her family to stay, she could do the things she loved.”

Camilla, in pre-recorded words, also spoke about how Queen Elizabeth II carved out her own role for many years in the “difficult position” of being a “solitary woman” in a male-dominated world.

The Queen delivered a masterstroke on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022 when she endorsed the then-Duchess of Cornwall to be known as Queen Consort when the time came.

The Queen said it was her “sincere wish” and called on the public to back both her daughter-in-law and Charles when he became King.

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It was a shrewd move from the monarch, in her twilight years, setting her affairs in order and ensuring as smooth a transition as possible.

It ended years of debate over what Camilla would eventually be called.