“I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all.”
Those latter words were an echo of the mantra that Elizabeth repeated throughout her reign.
“I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability,” she said at the end of celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee last June — her last major public event.
While Charles is not due to make a public appearance, his eldest son and heir Prince William and wife Kate will attend a private church service to commemorate the queen’s life.
William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, will visit the 12th Century St Davids Cathedral, a place of pilgrimage for centuries on the Welsh west coast which also has a special stall in the choir for the sovereign.
As is customary for such royal occasions, there will also be gun salutes fired in a London park and at the Tower of London. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the thoughts of the nation would be with Charles and his family on “the solemn anniversary”.
“With the perspective of a year, the scale of her late majesty’s service only seems greater,” he said. “Her devotion to the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth only seems deeper. And our gratitude for such an extraordinary life of duty and dedication, only continues to grow.”
Charles’ low-key approach to the day is in keeping with how Elizabeth used to mark her accession, not regarding the event as something to celebrate as it was a reminder of the unexpected death her father George VI.
The queen’s death last year marked an end of an era for Britain and, despite her age, came as a shock to the nation. During her seven decades on the throne, she had become not just Britain’s figurehead but also a towering presence on the world stage.