Wherever you might be, in London or beyond, by now you will have been made aware of the once-in-our-lifetime news: Queen Elizabeth II has died. The historic, record-breaking and most well-travelled British monarch passed away on Thursday 8 September 2022, in Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. ‘Operation London Bridge’, the code name for the extremely detailed funeral plans, originally devised in the 1960s by royals and government officials, has now been enacted, and, as its name suggests, revolves around London. Yesterday, a black sign was pinned to the Buckingham Palace gates by a footman, and overnight thousands have gathered there to lay flowers, letters and candles, and pay their final respects to the longest-running royal ruler of modern times. Here are all the things that are set to take place in the city, with some elements you may not expect.
The official events
- The bells have chimed: Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle all sounded their bells, letting them ring out in solemn tribute to the Queen’s reign at approximately noon on Friday 9 September.
- The guns have saluted: At 1pm on the same day, 96 shots were fired, one for each year of the Queen’s life, in Hyde Park. The shots were made by 41 rounds – as Hyde is a Royal Park, it therefore allows 20 more rounds than the usual royal salute, of 21.
- There will be a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral, open to the public: At 6pm on Friday 9 September, a remembrance service is being held at St Paul’s, attended by the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and senior ministers. There are also 2,000 tickets available to members of the public, which can be picked up from the City of London tourism office on Carter Lane, London, from 11am on the day, on a first-come-first-served basis.
- ‘God Save the King’ will be sung for the first time: King Charles III will officially be proclaimed King at St James’s Palace, probably on Saturday 10 September. This is not open to the public, but rather the Accession Council, made up of MPs, civil servants, high commissioners and the Lord Mayor of London. However, when the King attends his second meeting with the Ascension Council, also on Saturday, he will be publicly proclaimed the new King following a fanfare of trumpets in a balcony above Friary Court in St James’s Palace. The national anthem will then be played with the words ‘God Save the King’, for the first time since 1952.
- Guns will salute again: This time the guns will fire in both Hyde Park and the Tower of London to mark Charles’s ascension to King. King Charles III’s official coronation is then not expected to take place for some time – the Queen did not have her coronation until 15 months after her father had passed away, to allow enough time for the nation to mourn its former ruler.