As crowds of Britons stood vigil outside of the gates at Buckingham Palace in London, their sorrow for the death of the longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, hung heavy in the air.
But, then, quavering voices thick with emotion began to sing, breaking the mournful silence.
The chorus spread, filled with a mixture of grief, grim determination and national pride.
The lyrics they sang have gone unheard for over three generations: “God Save the King.”
CNN London reporter Anna Stewart captured the emotional moment in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
There was total silence outside Buckingham Palace as the news broke, and then the crowds broke into song: God Save the King. pic.twitter.com/6kCUNSLw68
— Anna Stewart (@annastewartcnn) September 8, 2022
The national anthem of the United Kingdom changed to “God Save the King” after Queen Elizabeth II passed away Thursday at the age of 96 and the former Prince of Wales became King Charles III, according to USA Today.
This is just part of the changes that also will see the queen’s image gradually replaced by the king’s on U.K. currency.
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Flags across the nation at police stations, government buildings and other places that have the queen’s cypher — a stylized “EIIR” below the crown, for “Elizabeth II Regina” — gradually will be replaced.
The last time this was the case was in 1952 under the late queen’s father, King George VI.
A huge cheer rings out as King Charles and Queen Camilla arrive at Buckingham Palace.
“God Save The King” the crowd shout. pic.twitter.com/nRNcCgsBby
— Royal Central (@RoyalCentral) September 9, 2022
A grieving King Charles III, 73, returned Friday morning to Buckingham Palace, where he and the Queen Consort Camilla Parker Bowles were greeted by applauding crowds shouting “God save the king” and “Long live the king.”
The new monarch greeted the gathered masses with handshakes and accepted their well-wishes and condolences before the royal couple viewed the flowers left at the palace gates.
Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a moving tribute in the House of Commons to Queen Elizabeth II and provided keen insight into the historical significance of the succession that “has already seamlessly taken place.”
She showed the world not just how to reign over a people, she showed the world how to give, how to love and how to serve.
It was that indomitability, that humour, that work ethic, that sense of history which together made her Elizabeth the Great. pic.twitter.com/PlACJiVb6j
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 9, 2022
In a speech, according to The Telegraph, Johnson said: “The fact that today we can say with such confidence ‘God Save the King’ is a tribute to him but above all to Elizabeth the Great, who worked so hard for the good of her country.”