‘I have faith in him’: Well-wishers mourning Queen at Windsor praise Charles’ first days as King

Britons paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II visited Windsor Castle on Sunday as her coffin travelled across Scotland

Saphora Smith
in Windsor
Sunday 11 September 2022 18:58 BST
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Well-wishers mourning Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor praise King Charles

People of all ages cascaded through winding streets to Windsor Castle on Sunday, to pay their respects not only to Queen Elizabeth II but also their new King.

All those who stopped to speak to The Independent said that while King Charles III had “big shoes to fill” they felt he was so far successfully shepherding the country through what had the potential to be a rocky transition.

“I have lots of faith in him,” said Katie Mclean, 39, who had travelled to Windsor with two friends and their children. “The initial speech ...couldn’t have been any better, he said all the right things.”

People make their way along the Long Walk towards Cambridge gate outside Windsor Castle, to lay flowers

There were only kind words for the way Charles had handled his accession to the throne while burdened with grief, and many said they thought the monarchy would be safe in hands for years to come under his stewardship.

“He couldn’t probably be any more prepared,” said Ms Mclean, who is from the royal borough of Berkshire where Windsor Castle is located. “His parents were great mentors.”

The fact that Prince William is next in line to the throne only bolstered well-wishers’ sense that the monarchy is here to stay – and could even thrive beyond Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

The new Prince and Princess of Wales would be able to modernise the monarchy in a way that King Charles III and the Queen Consort would struggle to do, Claire Edge, Ms Mclean’s friend, said.

A kaleidoscope of colours as royal supporters pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth

“I think he’d almost feel like he was being disrespectful to his mum if he changed anything whereas William won’t feel like that,” said Ms Edge.

“It’s also more of a fairy tale,” added Joanie Hogg, another friend.

No one who spoke toThe Independent along the Long Walk running up to the gates of Windsor Castle on Sunday said they thought they would see the United Kingdom transformed into a republic in their lifetime.

Crowds of people walked to Windsor Castle to bring flowers

Instead, the public’s emotional connection with the crown was on full display as well-wishers consistently compared the royal family to their own and said they were pleased to have seen Prince William and Prince Harry reunited publicly as they met with supporters on Saturday.

“Everyone needs their siblings,” said Ms Hogg.

“When it does come to William’s time to become the King you don’t want any issues with him and his brother to overshadow anything,” added Ms Edge.

Friends Katie Mclean, Joanie Hogg and Claire Edge said they were particularly excited for Prince William’s eventual ascension to the throne

Prince William and Prince Harry delighted royal fans on Saturday as they appeared outside Windsor Castle accompanied by their wives, Princess Kate and Meghan, thanking well-wishers for coming to pay their respects to their grandmother, the late Queen.

It is the first time the pair have appeared in public together in more than a year and comes amid ongoing speculation about a reported rift between the two brothers.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, Prince Harry, who stepped down as a senior working royal in 2020 and moved to America with his wife Meghan, described his relationship with William as “space”, adding: “Time heals all things, hopefully.”

Prince Harry and Meghan viewed tributes to his grandmother at Windsor on Saturday

While the next generation continues to generate much intrigue, those on the Long Walk said they were hopeful about King Charles III’s reign and several said they respected his environmentalism and his commitment to tackling climate change.

His first address as King, in which he paid tribute to the late Queen, pledged lifelong service to the country and appeared to draw a line under any bad feeling resulting from Harry’s decision to step back from royal duties, also impressed many royal well-wishers at Windsor.

“Compassionate, not formal and from the heart,” Colin Wyatt, a member of the Lakota Free Spirits bike club from Oxford that had come to pay their respects to the Queen, said of the speech. “I hope he does well.”

Colin Wyatt, 55, said the royal family would need time to step up to their new roles

Terry Collins, an engineer from Oxford, had been surprised by how well Charles had taken up the mantle as King

Mr Wyatt, who rides a Triumph, said it was important to give the family time to step up to their new roles.

“You’ve got to give them a chance, a bit like a football coach,” he quipped.

Many of those who spoke to The Independent said they had always felt that Charles would make a good King, while others said they had been pleasantly surprised by how well he appeared to be handling his accession.

King Charles has begun his royal duties already

Terry Collins, an engineer from Oxford who had travelled to Windsor because his young daughter was a big fan of Queen Elizabeth II’s hats, corgies and crowns, praised the King’s “human” speech on Friday. He said people who had thought he should have passed on the crown to Prince William may reconsider.

“I’m hoping Charles will have a few years,” he said. “William looked quite nervous yesterday at the proclamation. I think he thought ‘Oh my God I’m going to have to do that in a few year’s time,’ [so] maybe he does need this time to get ready.”

While Mr Collins said he was hopeful for the monarchy’s future, he said it was going to be a big adjustment for the British people, many of whom have only ever known Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign.

“The Queen feels like she was everyone’s nan,” he told The Independent. “It was very personal to everyone.”

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