Exclusive: What King Charles III said to well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace
Thousands are gathering at Buckingham Palace following King Charles’ walkabout after he returned from Balmoral earlier this afternoon.
Diana from London met King Charles: “I held out my hand, shook his hand, and I said: ‘Your mother has been absolutely wonderful for this country – and I know you will be too.’
‘“And he responded immediately, patting my hand and he said: ‘I hope so.’ And I said ‘you will be.’
“He looked like he’d been properly crying,” says Georgina from Oxfordshire who was also at the front of the crowd. “It was surreal.”
Katie, from London, was one of those that saw the new King arrive: “He looked sad,” she told City A.M. “He looked like he’d just lost his mother.”
Another well-wisher, Ella, added: “A few people tried to sing but people didn’t buy into that – they were very respectful and clapping, and there were some cheers.”
Shelley, another Londoner, was also in the crowd when King Charles III arrived. “It was quick but they drove through, and everyone was chanting ‘Hail to the king,’” she said.
Shelley believes 100 or so people were chanting but she was too far back in the crowd to see Charles meet people at the front.
“I’m thrilled to be jere with everyone,” Shelley added. “I wanted to be here for this momentous occasion. She was an amazing historic figure she’ll be missed be everyone.”
Katie added: “He [Charles] came out and one woman gave him a kiss, she shook his hand, Camilla was with him. It wasn’t as noisy as I thought it would be, people cheered but it was a sombre cheer.
“They shouted god hail the king beforehand, not when he went past, because we said that might be a bit too premature because she’s just passed. A few people tried to sing but people didn’t buy into that – they were very respectful and clapping and there were some cheers.”
When City A.M. conducted our interviews around 4pm thousands of well-wishers were engulfing the entire frontage of the palace, where one-way systems are in place to manage the crowds. Lorries driving in infrastructure for the Coronation and funeral events are causing further delays to crowds that are being herded from one side of the road to the other.
Teenage boys in nearby Green Park are selling flowers for £15 a pop and wearing all black.
The atmosphere seems to be quiet reflection with the loudest voices being the police asking well-wishers to “move along” and “move down.”
At the palace gates where Charles arrived there is a crowd twenty deep as people attempt to get closer to the flowers, photographs, flags and letters left at the main gates, but tributes span the entire length of the gates.
There are lifesize Queen cut-out figures and handmade crowns over two-metres in width hand decorated with flowers. One black and white flag emblazoned with images of the Queen and Prince Philip reads: “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Along the front stretches of the palace the police have erected reinforced barriers to protect floral tributes that are three or four metres thick in some places.
There is a wifi blackout within a mile of the palace, with walkers in the nearby St James Park City A.M. spoke with still unable to get data even up as far as Admiralty Arch.