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King Charles addresses Parliament, promising to uphold Britain’s constitution


“Parliament is the living and breathing instrument of our democracy,” King Charles said Monday in an address at Westminster Hall in London.

By Mark Landler


Under the ancient, vaulted timbers of Westminster Hall, King Charles III addressed Britain’s Parliament on Monday for the first time as sovereign, accepting condolences and pledging to uphold the principles of the country’s constitutional monarchy.


Speaking from the chamber where the body of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, will lie in state later this week, Charles said, “Parliament is the living and breathing instrument of our democracy.”


The ceremony showcased the harmonious and occasionally fraught intersection of British royalty and government. There were expressions of fealty from Parliament to the king and a reciprocal pledge by him to abide by the limits of his constitutional role, which stipulates that he remain above politics.


But the speaker of the House, Lindsay Hoyle, made a wry allusion to more turbulent times. King Charles I was tried on charges of tyranny and treason in Westminster Hall in 1649, and outside it stands a statue of Oliver Cromwell, who led armies on Parliament’s behalf against Charles in the English Civil War and went on to rule the country as lord protector.


“It is perhaps very British,” Hoyle said, to take note of revolutions in a formal statement to the monarch. That drew a faint smile from the king.


Charles struck a more poignant note, paying tribute to the queen, whom he said was a “pattern to all princes living,” quoting from Shakespeare. He referred to her constancy, symbolized by a stained-glass window that was installed to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.


“While very young, her late majesty pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the precious principles of constitutional government which lie at the heart of our nation,” the king said.


“This vow, she kept with unsurpassed devotion,” Charles said. “She set an example of selfless duty which with God’s help and your counsels I am resolved faithfully to follow.”

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