King Charles III has visited the Houses of Parliament to unveil a tribute to Elizabeth II. Both the House of Commons and House of Lords were temporarily suspended for the monarch’s visit.
The King commemorated the late Queen’s lying in state by attending a plaque unveiling ceremony to mark the place in Westminster Hall where the nation mourned the monarch.
Around 250,000 people are believed to have filed past Queen Elizabeth’s coffin, which was draped in the royal standard and adorned with the Imperial State Crown, ahead of her state funeral in September.
Charles and his siblings, the Princess Royal, Earl of Wessex and the Duke of York, also paid a poignant tribute to their mother the Queen by staging a silent vigil around her coffin during the lying in state.
The King returned to Westminster Hall to meet parliamentary staff, from chefs to security officers, who helped keep Westminster Hall open during the five days the public were able to pay their respects.
He highlighted the gift from Parliamentarians as he paid tribute to the late monarch: “We must not forget the Queen’s 70 years and this will be a majestic tribute to the Queen.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and dozens of peers, MPs and parliamentary staff from the Palace of Westminster watched as the plaque marking the spot where the Queen’s coffin had been laid was unveiled by two members of the military and two Parliamentary staff.
Earlier the mood had been lighted when the King picked up a walking stick dropped by Tory peer Lord Suri as he briefly chatted to those waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Charles also turned to another group and joked that they were “frozen stiff” which drew laughter.
The Sovereign’s visit came after His Royal Highness took part in an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle this morning (December 14) in which Countryfile presenter Matt Baker, actor Damian Lewis, drug company AstraZeneca’s chief executive Sir Pascal Sorlot and film director Sir John Boorman received honours.
Soap star William Roache, who holds the world record for the longest-serving TV actor in a continuous role for playing Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, was awarded his OBE at the royal residence.
Roache said: “Oh I love the royal family – I met the Queen about seven times. Charles is really, really friendly and more easy-going possibly in a sense.
“But the Queen was even – when she came (to visit the Coronation street set) less than a year ago – she always listened, she was attentive she was on the ball, and didn’t miss a trick. She was very bright.
“And they always love the humour, all of them, which I like. I’m very fond of the royal family.”
The 90-year-old actor said he and the King, 74, chatted about their respective workloads during the ceremony, adding: “Charles was lovely – very friendly.
“He said: ‘Not still working are you?’. I said: ‘Yes, just had two ex-girlfriends on the show’.
“He said: ‘Oh that must have been work’, and I said: ‘May I wish you a long and joyful reign sir?’, and he said: ‘Thank you, that will be a lot of work too’.”
Baker, who was awarded MBE for his work for the charity Children In Need, also praised the royal family.
The 44-year-old said: “I’ve done a lot with the Royal Family over the years, I really have.”
He added: “I think for Britain, I love the concept of the Royal Family
He went on to reminisce over how mucking out the Queen’s horse Emma was a real highlight in his TV career.
Baker also shared how he and Charles had spoken during the investiture about a herd of Hebridean sheep the presenter bought off the then-Prince of Wales during the filming of Countryfile.
He said: “I told him, because I was feeding them this morning before I came – obviously with it being so frosty – and they’re still going strong so we had a bit of a natter about it.”