Charles described the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth as the moment he “dreaded”, in a conversation with Prime Minister Liz Truss that was caught on television.
The Prime Minister’s first meeting with the new monarch came after Charles returned from Scotland to London to cheer the crowds outside Buckingham Palace who had come to pay their respects to the Queen.
“The moment I dreaded, as I know many people did,” Charles was heard telling the prime minister as they met in the audience room at Buckingham Palace.
Earlier, Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, spent more than 10 minutes shaking hands with dozens of well-wishers and looking at flowers outside the palace after stepping out of their car for an impromptu stroll.
“We shouldn’t take up too much of your time,” Charles told Ms Truss, who only took office on Tuesday.
“It was so touching this afternoon when we got all these people who had come to offer their condolences … and flowers,” he added, after the prime minister also offered her condolences.
The meeting came ahead of Charles’ televised address to the nation, in which he promised to follow his mother’s example by committing to duty.
In his first speech as monarch, King Charles spoke of his “deep sorrow” at his mother’s death, calling her “an inspiration and example to me and my whole family”.
“This pledge of lifelong service I renew to all today,” he said in the nine-and-a-half-minute address, recorded earlier in the day and delivered with a framed photograph of the Queen on the desk in front of him.
“As the Queen herself has done with such unwavering devotion, I also solemnly swear, during the remaining time that God gives me, to uphold constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” he said.
The king’s speech was televised and streamed at St Paul’s Cathedral, where around 2,000 people attended a memorial service.