“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace announced. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Though Charles has yet to be officially coronated, he is now the ruling monarch of the U.K. and its commonwealth. His wife, Duchess Camilla, is the queen consort. (The queen confirmed in February 2022 that Charles’ second wife would get the title when he took over.)
“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,” he shared in a statement just hours after his mother’s passing. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms, and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
He continued: “During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by her knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held.”
Charles, the oldest of the queen and the late Prince Philip’s four children, has spent his entire life preparing to one day succeed the throne amid Queen Elizabeth’s historic 70-year reign. Others questioned if Charles would bypass the throne entirely, handing over the reins to his oldest son, Prince William.
Charles, who is also the father of Prince Harry, couldn’t help but take a dig at the chatter during the Prince’s Trust Awards Trophy Ceremony at St. James’ Palace in 2021 when recalling the time he went to discount store T.K. Maxx.
“I remember there were an enormous number of people who were trying to get in, as they were waiting for me to get out. Story of my life …,” he quipped at the time.
Amid the gossip, it’s clear that Charles has spent a lifetime seriously thinking about his plans as king.
“I’ve had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better,” he revealed in a 2013 Time cover story. “I feel more than anything else it’s my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can.”
Keep scrolling to read everything Charles has said about becoming king throughout the years: