King’s face revealed burden of responsibility, says governor-general

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London: Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley says the King’s immense feeling of responsibility in becoming sovereign was evident in his face during Saturday’s historic coronation service, despite decades spent preparing for the role.

Hurley, joined by his wife Linda, was the first Australian-born governor-general to attend a British monarch’s coronation in a visit that marked his fourth trip to Britain within the past 12 months.

King Charles before and after his coronation. Credit: Getty Images

The couple were among the 20,000-strong crowd at Windsor on Sunday (UK time) for a concert to honour Charles III and wife, Camilla, as Britons took to the streets to celebrating the crowning of their new King and Queen.

Having taken the call from Buckingham Palace last September to be informed of the late Queen’s death, Hurley said he was privileged to attend the coronation – the first governor-general to do so in a century. The governor-general said he was taken aback by the personal nature of the service, and in particular an intimate moment between the King and his son and heir William, the Prince of Wales.

“I think you could see, particularly on his face, the understanding of the weightiness of it all. Very serious,” Hurley reflected following the ceremony. “But there was that lovely moment when William pledged allegiance to his father and then kissed him on the cheek.”

Prince William kisses his father, King Charles III, during the coronation ceremony.Credit: Getty Images

Prince William kissed his father on the cheek after paying homage, in a scripted traditional moment. He followed generations of Princes of Wales who have knelt before their fathers to pledge their allegiance.

William knelt in front of Charles, his hands clasped between those of his father, and said: “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you, and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liegeman of life and limb. So help me God.”

As he made his oath, his eyes could be seen darting to the right to read the words on the card held up in front of him. Then he rose, touched the King’s crown and leant forward to kiss his left cheek.

“It was very moving, I thought that was a really personal – a very human sort of moment,” he said.

From left: Matildas captain Sam Kerr, Governor-General David Hurley with wife Linda, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with partner Jodie Haydon on the way to the coronation.Credit: AP

Hurley attended the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June last year before returning for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. He flew with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the state funeral in September, meeting the King, William and his wife Catherine, the Princess of Wales.

Having previously served in a vice regal role as NSW governor before his appointment to Yarralumla in 2019, Hurley has come to know both men well, and said he was confident the monarchy remained in good hands.

“It’s been said quite a number of times, but it’s about service,” he said.

“I think the driving thing during the King’s reign will be volunteerism – this is service. And you could see writ large through that whole service, there is authority, and with authority becomes power, and with power becomes responsibility and with responsibility – and a very important part of that responsibility is service. And I think that’s sort of one of the big themes that ran through the whole of that two-hour ceremony.

He said he had spoken briefly to the King during a lunch earlier in the week when, despite the distractions of the coronation, he was “very engaged with what we’re up to in Australia”.

“He was very interested in the upcoming referendum, and he knew how the economy’s going – those sorts of things. So, he was very keen to just chat about that,” Hurley said.

The Hurleys visited Greece ahead of the coronation, the first time that an Australian head of state had travelled there in an official capacity in more than 20 years.

He stopped in Lemnos, a small island in the northern Aegean Sea, where Greece and Australia are creating a Remembrance Trail in honour of the Anzac troops killed in the First World War.

Hurley also praised Australia’s historically close ties with the country, as well as the significant contribution of the Greek diaspora to the nation, during meetings with Greece’s highest state and political officials in Athens.

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