The nation’s new monarch King Charles III was given a rapturous welcome as he greeted well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace.
He received heartfelt condolences from the public for his loss, after returning to London following the death of his mother the Queen.
It was the new King’s first walkabout and encounter with the public since his accession and crowds lined up behind a barrier clamouring to greet him, smiling and taking photos.
One woman leaned over to kiss Charles’s right hand and another kissed him on the cheek as he thanked people, shaking countless hands after stepping from his vehicle.
Joyce Curtis, 72, from Jersey, said: “I just wanted to be here. It was great.
“I have respect for him. He walked all the way along to see the people and back to see the flowers.
“It is what the people wanted to see, which is great.”
She added: “He’s got a job on his hands.”
When the King’s state car was first spotted by the crowds as it neared the Palace, a cheer went up from the well-wishers who had gathered in their thousands outside the gates.
A man shouted “God save the King” as the couple stepped from the car, and Charles went ahead of his wife to greet people, many of whom had waited hours to see the new monarch.
One of the first to offer words of support to the new King was Laura Ohmona. She said after shaking hands with Charles: “I said to him ‘sorry for your loss’ and he said ‘thank-you’.”
Charles smiled at comments from the public and at several moments threw up his hands as if to say “thank-you” when condolences were shouted out.
A well-wisher called out “We love you King Charles and we loved your mum”.
Later Charles was overheard saying “thank-you so much” to a member of the public.
There were impromptu renditions of the national anthem from parts of the crowd, with the words changed to reflect the country now has a King, while others shouted “hip, hip hooray”.
The Queen, as Camilla is now known, followed behind him, before joining his side to view the large collection of brightly coloured floral bouquets left in tribute to his mother.
She appeared close to tears at the end of the 15-minute walkabout after the couple shook every outstretched hand and acknowledged words of sympathy from the crowds.
Shouts of God Save the King went up, along with three cheers, for the new head of state, dressed in mourning black suit and tie, who smiled and waved at the mass of people.
The King now prepares to hold his first audience with the prime minister ahead of delivering a televised address at 6pm today.
Details of the King’s historic Accession Council, which will be held on Saturday at 10am in St James’s Palace, were announced by Buckingham Palace.
It will be televised for the first time in its history, showing the King being formally proclaimed monarch and Charles making his declaration and oath.
A Principal Proclamation will be read in public for the first time in the open air from the balcony overlooking Friary Court at St James’s an hour later at 11am.
It will be followed by a flurry of proclamations around the country, including at the Royal Exchange at midday on Saturday.
Charles and Camilla made the journey from Balmoral, where the Queen died peacefully on Thursday at the age of 96, arriving at RAF Northolt at around 1.35pm.
Thousands have flocked the Queen’s former homes of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral, leaving hundreds of bouquets, personal notes and candles in her honour.
The King gave the order for a period of “Royal Mourning” for the Queen to be observed from now until seven days after her funeral.
Royal salutes were fired with one round for every year of the Queen’s life on Friday at 1pm in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
The PM and senior ministers will attend a public service of remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral in central London this evening.