Prince Charles is king at last.
The longtime British heir apparent, who is 73, ascended to the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Thursday. The queen, who lived to be 96, reigned for an astounding 70 years.
Charles will now be known as King Charles III, Clarence House said Thursday. Camilla is now Camilla, Queen Consort, as it was the late queen’s “sincere wish” that her daughter-in-law take on that title.
“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me,” Elizabeth said in a message released in February. “And it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
Charles did not need a coronation ceremony in order to officially become king, as he gained the title immediately upon his mother’s death.
Shortly after news of his mother’s death broke, the new king issued a statement.
“The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” Charles said.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother,” the king’s statement continued. “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
“During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held,” he said.
As sovereign, Charles has also assumed his mother’s titles as defender of the faith and supreme governor of the Church of England.
He is also now the head of the Commonwealth, a title that is not hereditary but decided upon by Commonwealth leaders.
Queen Elizabeth previously made it clear that it was her “sincere wish” for Charles to take over the title. The motion was formally approved by leaders in April 2018 after the late monarch’s endorsement.