(Update 2: adds quotes by King Charles III)
London/Dublin, Sep 13 (EFE).- King Charles III arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday for the first time since he became monarch following his mother Queen Elizebeth II’s death last week.
The King, who was accompanied by the Queen Consort Camilla, was greeted by a 21-gun salute and massive crowds at the Royal Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast.
During his visit, the monarch had an audience with Northern Ireland’s political leaders, including Sinn Féin’s deputy-leader Michelle O’Neill and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Jeffrey Donaldson.
“In the years since she began her long life of public service, my mother saw Northern Ireland pass through momentous and historic changes,” Charles III said, responding to the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s message of condolence.
“Through all those years she never ceased to pray for the best of times for this place and its people, whose stories she knew, whose sorrows our family had felt, and for whom she had a great affection and regard.
“Now with that shining example before me, I take up my new duties, resolved to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland,” he added.
The King and Queen Consort were due to attend an afternoon service at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast in memory of Queen Elizabeth II, a ceremony attended by the UK’s prime minister, Liz Truss, her Republic of Ireland counterpart Micheál Martin, and Irish president Michael D. Higgins.
Earlier on Tuesday, thousands of soldiers in uniform participated in a military rehearsal of the procession of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin to Westminster Hall in central London.
Troops were ordered to march along Queen’s Gardens, The Mall, Horse Guards and Horse Guards Arch, Whitehall, Parliament Street, Parliament Square and New Palace Yard at around 3:00 am GMT. A black coffin was used as part of the rehearsal.
The procession will take place on Wednesday when the late queen’s coffin will be carried from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where Elizabeth II will lie in state for four days. King Charles III and members of the royal family will walk behind the cortege.
Later in the day, the late monarch’s coffin will be flown from St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where it has been since Sunday, to London on a British Air Force plane.
A state funeral will be held on September 19 for the queen, who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday at the age of 96. EFE