By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) -King Charles on Friday thanked the public for their love and support on the first anniversary of the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth and his accession to the throne, echoing her words as he vowed to be of service to all.
Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning sovereign, died aged 96 on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish summer retreat, after a 70-year reign.
"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," Charles said in a 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."
Those latter words were an echo of the mantra that Elizabeth repeated throughout her reign.
Charles, who immediately succeeded his mother as king of the United Kingdom and 14 other countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and his wife Camilla spent most of the day quietly at the Scottish royal home.
There was no major ceremonial event to mark his Accession Day but the couple did attend the nearby Crathie Kirk for private memorial prayers. Afterwards, they chatted to a small crowd outside, including some of those who had worked for the queen on her estate.
Buckingham Palace also released a portrait of the late queen, chosen by Charles, which had previously only been seen in an exhibition.
Charles' eldest son and heir Prince William and wife Kate paid their own tribute to the queen and will attend a private church service to commemorate her life.
The Prince and Princess of Wales visited the 12th Century St Davids Cathedral on the Welsh coast which has a special stall for the sovereign, and laid flowers in front of a portrait of the late monarch.
"We all miss you," the couple said on social media.
Meanwhile, William's younger brother Prince Harry, who had returned to Britain from his Californian home for an awards ceremony, was pictured on social media at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle where the queen is buried and where he married his wife Meghan in 2018.
There were gun salutes fired in London and across the country. 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."
The queen's death marked an end of an era for Britain. During her seven decades on the throne, she had become not just Britain's figurehead but also a huge presence on the world stage.
Polls suggest most Britons have a favourable view of Charles' reign so far, although younger generations appear much less enthusiastic.
He is also still dealing with issues within his own family, most notably the rift with his younger son Harry and Meghan, and what to do with his own younger brother Prince Andrew, who had to quit royal duties over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
(Reporting by Michael Holden, Editing by Alexandra Hudson, Angus MacSwan and Ros Russell)