King Charles III just made a change to the national mourning period

·5-min read
Photo credit: Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images
Photo credit: Max Mumby/Indigo - Getty Images

As the world comes to terms with the news that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away at the age of 96, the cogs of the British Monarchy are already turning. Following the death of his mother, Charles has taken over as King – meaning the line of succession to the British throne has shifted – and the UK has entered an official period of national mourning.

Many will already be familiar with the notion of national mourning, in light of Prince Philip's death last year at the age of 99. But things will be very different this time around as we mourn Her Majesty, who was the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Ahead of the Queen's passing, a number of plans were set in place including Operation Unicorn (which detailed what would happen in the event Her Majesty died whilst in Scotland) and Operation London Bridge (which detailed the same in case the monarch died in London). Given that the Queen was residing at her Balmoral Estate in Scotland at the time of her passing, Operation Unicorn was set into motion.

Operation Unicorn

Under the plans laid out in Operation Unicorn, the Queen's body will be taken to Holyrood Palace before her coffin is taken to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh to lie in state. Later, the Queen's coffin is to be placed on a royal train and taken to London where her funeral will be held in 10 days. Ahead of the funeral, the Queen's coffin will lie in state at the Palace of Westminster for three days and members of the public are invited to pay their respects during this time.

As part of Operation Unicorn, King Charles will receive the motion of condolence at Westminster Hall and will also embark on a tour of the UK. This tour will begin with a visit to the Scottish parliament and a service at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh followed by another motion of condolence at Hillsborough Castle and attend a service at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, in London a rehearsal will take place for Operation Lion – the procession of the coffin from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster. Read more on what we know about the Queen's funeral so far, here.

National mourning

Today, 9 September 2022, Buckingham Palace released a statement on the national period of mourning following Queen Elizabeth's passing. In the statement, plans were laid out as to how the nation – and the royals – will mourn the death of the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

"Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, it is His Majesty's wish that a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen's Funeral," the statement – which was shared to social media – read.

"Royal Mourning will will be observed by Members of the Royal Family, Royal Household staff and Representative of the Royal Household on official duties, together with troops committed to ceremonial duties," the statement added.

Buckingham Palace's statement also pointed out that during the national mourning period, flags at royal residences will be flown at half-mast and a royal gun salute will take place in London today at 1pm. Royal residences – including Balmoral Castle and the Royal Mews – will remain closed throughout the mourning period.

What else can we expect during the national mourning period?

The soon-to-be crowned King Charles III will address the nation in a televised broadcast, and the Prime Minister – the newly appointed Liz Truss – along with the Ministry of Defence will organise gun salutes and a minute of silence to be held across the country. Bells will be heard ringing out at religious buildings in the UK and a remembrance service is expected to take place at London's St Paul's Cathedral.

The following nine days will see the Accession Council name Charles as the new King and a proclamation will be read out at St James' Palace and the Royal Exchange. MPs will also give tributes in the House of Commons.

Her Majesty's coffin will return to Buckingham Palace on the day after her death and King Charles will embark on a tour of the UK.

Day 10: The Queen's funeral

The tenth day after Her Majesty's death will be a Day of National Mourning and the former monarch's funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey. Afterwards, a committal service will be held at St George's Chapel in Windsor where Queen Elizabeth II will be buried in the King George IV Memorial Chapel.

Employers are not obliged to give staff a day off, however a two minute silence will be held across Britain. The day of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral will not be a bank holiday but the London Stock Exchange and most banks will be closed.

The subsequent coronation of King Charles, however, will be a national holiday.

Will shops close during national mourning?

With the announcement that there will be a 17-day period of national mourning following Her Majesty's death, there are plenty of questions being asked about whether shops, schools and workplaces will close.

Much like for the Queen's funeral, schools and workplaces will not be obliged to close for the national mourning period – but some may choose to close (or change their operating hours) as a mark of respect. The decision to close for national mourning will be at the discretion of schools or businesses. It's worth noting though that some public services may close their offices until after the funeral is over.

As a mark of respect to the Queen, train companies that had planned to strike across the week commencing 12 September – during which time Her Majesty will be lying-in-state for members of the public to pay their respects – announced that they would pause planned industrial action. Royal Mail also called off a planned strike that was due to last 48 hours from Friday 9 September.

Our thoughts are with the Royal Family – and the British nation – at this emotional time.

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