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King Charles Honors Queen Elizabeth on First Anniversary of Her Death with Message and Rare Photo

"We recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us," the King said in a statement

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage</p>  A shot of Queen Elizabeth and then-Prince Charles at the Braemar Highland Gathering in 2017.

Samir Hussein/WireImage

A shot of Queen Elizabeth and then-Prince Charles at the Braemar Highland Gathering in 2017.

King Charles is remembering his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on the first anniversary of her death.

After midnight on Friday in the U.K., the King issued a formal message to mark the anniversary, which doubles as his Accession Day. Charles immediately acceded to the throne when his mother died at age 96 on Sept. 8, 2022, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She reigned for a record 70 years and had recently celebrated her Platinum Jubilee.

“In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us,” King Charles said in the statement.

“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,” he added, referring to his wife Queen Camilla.

Buckingham Palace also released audio of King Charles reading his statement. The recording took place on Thursday at Balmoral Castle.

Related: One Year Without Queen Elizabeth: How the Royal Family Has Coped with the 'Enormous Loss' (Exclusive)

The message was sent on Balmoral Castle letterhead, another signal of where the King is in residence. Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and successor has continued her tradition of retreating to Balmoral at the end of the summer, where he was spotted driving to church last week with his wife. Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Andrew traveled in another car, while Prince Edward, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence also rode together to Craithe Kirk church. The outing indicated that the family came together at the castle for a summer stay, as they did for decades during Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

The King’s message came with a previously unreleased photograph of Queen Elizabeth that he chose to mark the anniversary. The portrait was taken by Cecil Beaton at Buckingham Palace during an official sitting on October 16, 1968.

The photo was first shown at the National Portrait Gallery between November 1968 and March 1969 in the exhibit “Beaton Portraits 1928-68.” The display was the first retrospective of a living photographer’s work in a British national museum.

Beaton first photographed then-Princess Elizabeth in 1942, and his formal portraits of her wearing the Imperial State Crown on her 1953 coronation day are among the most enduring images of her crowning. A fresh take on the static style seen in previous coronation portraits, he brought in "an air of theatricality and glamour" by capturing the young Queen before a painted backdrop of Westminster Abbey, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

Alamy Stock Photo A portrait of Queen Elizabeth on her June 1953 coronation day by Cecil Beaton.
Alamy Stock Photo A portrait of Queen Elizabeth on her June 1953 coronation day by Cecil Beaton.

Related: Prince Harry Honors Queen Elizabeth on Eve of Her Death Anniversary: 'She Is Looking Down on All of Us'

While Beaton would go on to photograph Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family in the years that followed, the 1968 sitting that produced the portrait the court released today was their last together.

King Charles and Queen Camilla are expected to spend the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s anniversary quietly and privately, as the late monarch used to do on her own Accession Day. Meanwhile, Prince William and Princess Kate are expected to lead the public tributes on Friday.

Traditions that will continue include the ringing of bells at Westminster Abbey on Friday in honor of the King’s Accession Day, the abbey previously announced. A 21-gun salute will be fired in the royal parks of London as a gesture of respect, the royal family stated.

PEOPLE Magazine, September 18, 2023.
PEOPLE Magazine, September 18, 2023.


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As the anniversary arrives, the royal family is still adjusting to life without their matriarch.

In matters both personal and professional, “there is an enormous loss,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story, “as [the Queen] played a very important part in all of their lives. But I’m impressed at how smoothly things are moving forward given all the little hiccups that there are in the background."

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