Prince William paid a moving tribute to his father, telling him: ‘Pa, we are all so proud of you.’
He also told King Charles that he had no doubt the late Queen Elizabeth, his ‘very proud mother’, would be ‘fondly’ looking down from heaven.
William delivered his emotional address from Windsor Castle as the nation celebrated the crowning of King Charles and Queen Camilla with the official Coronation Concert, a glorious mix of music, dance and the spoken word.
Set on a spectacular stage shaped like a multi-tier Union flag, it was an unashamedly patriotic highlight of a long weekend of celebrations.
Events to mark Saturday’s Coronation will culminate today with a ‘day of service’ dubbed the Big Help Out as senior royals join volunteers around the country.
Their Majesties arrived to huge cheers and flag-waving from the 20,000-strong crowd last night, with Camilla looking elegant in a royal blue Anna Valentine jumpsuit.
The Prince of Wales, who has become an increasingly assured public speaker in recent years, opened his speech with: ‘Good evening, Your Majesties. Good evening, Windsor!’
After thanking everyone who had helped make the evening so special, William said he wanted ‘to say a few words about my father, and why I believe this weekend is so important’.
The father-of-three could not resist shoehorning in a joke about one of concert star Lionel Richie’s best-loved songs, saying: ‘Don’t worry, unlike Lionel, I won’t go on all night long.’
Turning serious, William left barely a dry eye in the crowd – let alone the millions watching around the world – as he told them: ‘As my grandmother said when she was crowned, coronations are a declaration of our hopes for the future.
‘And I know she’s up there, fondly keeping an eye on us. She would be a very proud mother.
‘For all that celebrations are magnificent, at the heart of the pageantry is a simple message: service. My father’s first words on entering Westminster Abbey yesterday were a pledge of service. It was a pledge to continue to serve.’
In a heartfelt homage to his father, with whom he has not always seen eye to eye, William praised the King’s legacy on everything from charities such as the Prince’s Trust to his pioneering work on the environment and attempts to promote interfaith and cultural harmony.
He added: ‘Pa, we are all so proud of you.’
The prince also said he wanted to express his ‘pride and gratitude for the millions of people who serve, in the forces, in classrooms, hospital wards and local communities’, some of whom were in the audience. William said: ‘I wish I could mention you all. Your service inspires us. And tonight we celebrate you too.’
He concluded with his own stirring pledge to the nation as his father’s son and heir, saying: ‘I commit myself to serve you all – King, country and Commonwealth. God Save The King!’
Windsor, Queen Elizabeth’s favourite residence and a seat of royal power for more than 1,000 years, was an inspired venue for last night’s concert.
Stars including Richie, Katy Perry, Take That and Andrea Bocelli brought the audience to its feet.
The Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Art also came together for the first time to create a one-off performance with actor Ncuti Gatwa, who takes over the title role in Doctor Who later this year.
Downton Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville, the evening’s host, warmed up the crowd with some light-hearted jokes, including referring to the watercolour-painting King as ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’.
The concert, organised by the BBC, also featured video sketches from Tom Cruise, Dame Joan Collins and Sir Tom Jones, who recited little-known facts about the new monarch.
The stage resembled the Union Flag, with catwalks jutting out from the centre and multiple levels for the 70-piece orchestra and band.
As darkness fell behind the castle, its ancient facade came alive with projection and light, at one point linking up with nine other locations around the country for a dazzling ‘Lighting up of the Nation’.
Among the audience were dozens of winners of the Queen’s Coronation Champions Awards, supported by the Daily Mail.
Earlier in the day, William and Kate joined well-wishers on the Long Walk at Windsor for a surprise appearance at a Big Lunch event, one of thousands of community street parties taking place across the country, including in Downing Street.
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