Category Archives: British Royals

The Duke of Edinburgh to retire from public engagements

Photo Credit – Wikipedia, Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

Sudden news of a Royal Household staff meeting scheduled for the morning of May 4, 2017 caused a night of speculation regarding the health of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.  In addition to staff in London, staff from Windsor Castle, Sandringham, and Balmoral were called to an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace in London.   In the morning, Buckingham Palace released the following announcement:

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen.

Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.

The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.

Prince Philip will celebrate his 96th birthday next month and has been supporting his wife in her duties since their wedding 70 years ago. He is the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family.  Like his wife, Prince Philip is a great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, but through her daughter Princess Alice who married Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.  Prince Philip carried out 110 days of engagements in 2016, making him the fifth busiest member of the royal family.  He had carried out an engagement on May 3, 2017 at Lord’s Cricket Ground to open a new stand where he joked that he is the “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”.

In 1956, Prince Philip founded The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which recognizes young people for completing a series of self-improvement exercises modeled on Kurt Hahn’s solution to the “Six Declines of Modern Youth.”  The program now exists in 144 countries.  In recent years, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex have taken on most of the duties related to the program.

Prince Philip will accompany Queen Elizabeth II today, May 4, 2017, to a service for members of the Order of Merit at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace. Afterward, they will host a luncheon for those attending the service.

The remaining engagements for Prince Philip on Buckingham Palace’s Future Engagements:

  • 9 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit Pangbourne College, Pangbourne, Reading, Berkshire, to celebrate its Centenary.
  • 14 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh will present the prizes for the DAKS Challenge Trophy, at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
  • 15 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Chartered Management Institute, will attend the President’s Dinner at Banqueting House, Whitehall
  • 16 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 17 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Cormorant, will attend the Cormorant Club’s 70th-anniversary Reception, at the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall, London, SW1.
  • 18 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, the Pakistan Society, will attend a Dinner marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pakistan, at Mansion House, London, EC4.
  • 19 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will hold a Dinner at Frogmore House, Home Park Windsor.
  • 21 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will attend the Regimental Remembrance Service at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1.
  • 22 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will attend the First Guards Club Dinner, at the Cavalry and Guards Club, London, SW1.
  • 22 May 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit the Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
  • 22 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will hold a Regimental Council Meeting at Buckingham Palace.
  • 24 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, will hold Receptions for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in the Award, at Buckingham Palace.
  • 30 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, the Air League, will hold a Reception at St. James’s Palace.
  • 31 May 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, London Youth, will hold an afternoon Reception at Buckingham Palace.
  • 1 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 7 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, will hold a Reception at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.
  • 8 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Member, Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, will attend a Dinner at 1 Great George Street, London, SW1.
  • 13 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend Evensong at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace to celebrate the Centenary of the Companions of Honour.
  • 14 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, Plan International UK, will hold a Reception to mark its 80th anniversary, at Buckingham Palace.
  • 16 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel, Grenadier Guards, will hold the Senior Colonel’s Conference at Buckingham Palace.
  • 19 June 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend a Service for the Order of the Garter at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
  • 27 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Fellow, Zoological Society of London, will present The Prince Philip Award for Contributions to Zoology, at ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park, London NW1.
  • 30 June 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Member, The Coaching Club, will attend a dinner at the Visitor Centre Restaurant, Sandringham House.
  • 3 July 2017: The Duke of Edinburgh, Honorary Member, Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow, will attend a Reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Prince Philip Prize, at Trades Hall, 85 Glassford St, Glasgow.
  • 4 July 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will give a Garden Party.
  • 12 July 2017 to 14 July 2017: Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will host The King and Queen of Spain during their State Visit to the United Kingdom when they will stay at Buckingham Palace.

When The Monarch Dies: Royal Titles and Arms

by Scott Mehl

Letters Patent creating Prince Charles as Prince of Wales, 1958

Royal Titles

As already discussed, when the Monarch dies, the heir apparent immediately takes the throne. This includes all of the titles and trappings of the monarchy. The titles of the Monarch remained relatively unchanged from the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 (with the exception of the title Emperor/Empress of India, which was held from 1876 until 1947). Currently, the British monarch is also the monarch of 15 other realms, and is titled differently in each one:

United Kingdom
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Antigua and Barbuda
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Antigua and Barbuda and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Australia
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

The Bahamas
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Barbados
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Barbardos and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Belize
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Belize and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Canada
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Grenada
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Grenada and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Jamaica
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

New Zealand
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Papua New Guinea
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Papua New Guinea and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Christopher and Nevis and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Lucia
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Lucia and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Solomon Islands
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Solomon Islands and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

Tuvalu
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Tuvalu and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

The monarch also immediately becomes Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, and Sovereign of all of the Honours and Orders of Chivalry both in Britain and the other realms.  It is expected that the titles will remain the same, with the possible exception of ‘Head of the Commonwealth’. In 1949, King George VI became the first Head of the Commonwealth, and the role and title passed to his daughter Queen Elizabeth II upon her accession. When the Commonwealth was formally established, the Declaration states that the King will serve as Head of the Commonwealth. In keeping with that sense of heredity, when Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales in 1958, the Letters Patent issued stated that he, and his heirs, will serve as Heads of the Commonwealth. However, there are those who feel that, when the current reign ends, the various members of the Commonwealth should collectively determine who will succeed in the role.

Upon becoming monarch, any and all titles held by that person revert to the Crown, meaning that they cease to exist. For example, Prince Charles will cease being Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, etc., the moment he becomes King. Some of his previous titles will pass automatically to the new heir apparent, and others must be specifically granted. You can read more about those titles in our previous article – When The Monarch Dies: Immediately and Automatically.

Titles and Styles of the Descendants of the Monarch

For the most part, the titles and styles of a Monarch’s descendants are determined by the Letters Patent issued by King George V in 1917. Under these LPs, the style of ‘Royal Highness’ and title of ‘Prince/Princess’ is granted to:

  • children of the monarch
  • grandchildren in the male line
  • the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales

Several additional LPs have been issued since then, which make some alterations to the original LPs:

  • 1948 – King George VI issued LPs declaring that all children of then-Princess Elizabeth would be styled as HRH, and titled as Prince/Princess. Without these LPs, Charles and Anne would not have become HRH until The Queen’s accession in 1952. Instead, they would have been styled as children of a Duke. Charles would have been Charles Mountbatten, Earl of Merioneth (using his father’s most senior subsidiary title by courtesy), and Anne would have been Lady Anne Mountbatten.
  • 1957 – Queen Elizabeth II issued LPs creating her husband a Prince of the United Kingdom. Until that point, he was merely HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and not ‘Prince Philip’ as the media often referred to him.
  • 2012 – Queen Elizabeth II issued LPs declaring that all children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales would be styled as HRH, with the title Prince/Princess. While this had no effect on Prince George, who was already entitled as the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, it did affect his younger sister Princess Charlotte. Were it not for these LPs, Charlotte would be styled Lady Charlotte Mountbatten-Windsor until her grandfather became King.

Children of the Monarch

Upon the accession of a new monarch, two changes take place when it comes to the titles and styles of the monarch’s children. Children of a sovereign are formally styled with the article ‘The’ preceding their names. They also cease using any territorial designation. For example, Prince Harry of Wales, upon his father’s accession, will become The Prince Harry. Should he have a peerage by that point, he would continue to be formally styled as such – ‘HRH The Duke/Earl of XXX’.  These changes remain in place, even after that monarch has passed away.  For example, the younger daughter of King George VI became The Princess Margaret upon her father’s accession in 1936, and remained so for the rest of her life.  That style did not end upon her father’s death.

Based on the assumption that the current line of succession remains unchanged, the following changes will occur with the next reign: Prince Charles will become HM The King; Prince William will automatically become HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge, and Prince George will become HRH Prince George of Cornwall and Cambridge. (Note that the Cornwall title always precedes any other peerage titles.) It would then be expected that Prince William would at some point be created Prince of Wales. At that time, Prince George and Princess Charlotte would take ‘of Wales’ as their territorial designation.

Here’s a great article which explains further – Unofficial Royalty: What’s In a Title: The Changing Royal Style

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Royal Arms

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. photo: By Sodacan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21101265

The Royal Arms have remained unchanged since Queen Victoria’s accession in 1837. On the shield, they feature the three gold lions in the 1st and 4th quarter (representing England), the red rampant lion in the second quarter (representing Scotland), and the gold harp in the 3rd quarter (representing Ireland).  There is also a second version used in Scotland which features the Scottish emblem in the 1st and 4th quarter, with the English in the 2nd.

Arms of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria), featuring the Arms of Saxony. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11758689

Until 1917, when King George V changed the name to the House of Windsor and removed all German styles and titles, the arms of male-line descendants of Queen Victoria also featured in inescutcheon of the Arms of Saxony in recognition of their descent from Prince Albert (who was a Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and a Duke of Saxony).

Children and grandchildren of the monarch, in the male line, are typically granted their own coats of arms around the time they reach the age of 18, and all are based on the Royal Arms. They are made unique by the use of a label – with three points for children of a monarch (and the eldest son of the Prince of Wales), and five points for grandchildren.

The Arms of The Prince of Wales. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11758689

The arms of the Prince of Wales feature a plain three-point label and also feature an inescutcheon of the traditional arms of the Principality of Wales. As Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, he also has a different coat of arms (here).

The labels on the arms of children and grandchildren of the monarch also feature a mark of cadence on one or more of the points. This makes each coat of arms unique to that person. For example, Prince Harry’s arms feature a five-point label (as a grandchild of the monarch), with a red scallop shell on the first, third and fifth point. These are taken from the Spencer arms, used by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Similar marks of cadence appear on all of the arms granted to children and grandchildren of the monarch.

These arms are granted for the person’s lifetime, and do not pass to their children. They do, however, change slightly when there is a new monarch. A grandchild who now becomes a child of the monarch will see their label change from five points to three. And the new heir apparent – once created Prince of Wales – will assume the arms of the Prince of Wales.

Arms of the Duchess of Cambridge. photo: By SodacanThis vector image was created with Inkscape. – Own work, Based on: BBC News and Official website, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14960090

Wives traditionally use their husband’s arms impaled with their own (or their father’s) arms. Such is the case with the arms of the Duchess of Cambridge seen above. They feature the Duke of Cambridge’s arms on the left, and the arms of her father on the right.

Up until 1975, none of these individual grants of arms were heritable. But in 1975, The Queen issued a Royal Warrant declaring that the arms of grandsons of a monarch (other than the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) are heritable with appropriate differentiation. This means that the arms of the current Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, as well as Prince Michael of Kent, will pass on to their eldest sons.

British Monarchy: Coat of Arms
Wikipedia: Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom
Unofficial Royalty: English Royal Heraldry

When The Monarch Dies: Royal Wills and Inheritance

by Scott Mehl

While wills are typically public record, those of members of the royal family are traditionally sealed. This goes back to the death of Queen Mary’s younger brother, Prince Francis of Teck, in October 1910. (One very notable exception is the will of Diana, Princess of Wales, which was made public after her death in 1997. You can read her will here.)

Born in 1870, Prince Francis was the third of four children of Francis, Duke of Teck, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. In addition to being a career military officer, Frank – as he was known – was also known for his love of gambling and women. He never married, but had a long affair with The Countess of Kilmorey (née Ellen Constance Baldock), a former mistress of King Edward VII.

When Francis died suddenly of pneumonia in 1910, he left a large collection of emeralds to The Countess of Kilmorey in his will. These emeralds, known as the Cambridge Emeralds, had a very interesting history. Years earlier, Francis’s grandmother, The Duchess of Cambridge (née Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel), had won a box of emeralds in a charity lottery during a visit to Frankfort. Believed to be between 30-40 cabochon emeralds, they passed to Francis’s mother in 1889, and upon her death in 1897, they passed to Francis.

Mary – who had become Queen several months before Francis’s death, and was due to be crowned several months later – was mortified that the jewels would be passing out of the family, and to a mistress no less! She quickly set out to get the emeralds back, and ended up purchasing them from The Countess for £10,000. Queen Mary was also very aware that the details of the will, and Francis’s affair, would cause a public scandal and could potentially tarnish the monarchy, so she successfully petitioned The High Court to have her brother’s will sealed. (Queen Mary later used the emeralds in creating some of the jewelry for the Delhi Durbar in 1911. To read more about the emeralds and the jewelry that was created, check out this great article from our friends at From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault — CLICK HERE!)

Even though the wills are sealed, there are several clear traditions for how some assets are passed from one generation to the next. By tradition, Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House – both of which are personal property – pass from monarch to monarch. For the most part, this has been a smooth transition. However, when King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, the properties remained his personal property, and the new King George VI was forced to purchase them from his elder brother.

The Queen Mother wearing the Oriental Circlet and crown rubies

A similar tradition applies to some of the more important pieces of jewelry. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, she designated several items as jewels of the Crown – meaning that they pass automatically from monarch to monarch. Some of these include the Coronation necklace and earrings, the Oriental Circlet and Queen Victoria’s ruby necklace and earrings.

We must remember that many of the monarch’s assets aren’t technically his or hers to give away, but are instead simply held by the monarch in trust for the nation. These include the royal palaces, the Crown Jewels, and much of the Royal Collection. These belong to the Sovereign, although not to the individual who holds the title.

As for personal property, the majority is usually left to the new monarch. A 1993 agreement with the government allows for bequests from monarch to monarch (or consort to monarch) to be free from inheritance tax. This arrangement avoids the need to sell assets into order to pay the nearly 40% inheritance tax when a monarch or consort dies. Sadly, many other royals have been forced to sell jewels and other assets in order to pay the tax bill, and historic pieces have left the family.

When The Monarch Dies: The Coronation

by Susan Flantzer

King George V and Queen Mary seated on the Chairs of Estate in front of the royal box at their coronation in 1911. It was the first time any part of the service had been photographed; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

After a period of mourning, the new monarch is usually consecrated and crowned in Westminster Abbey. Normally, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiates, although the monarch may designate any other bishop of the Church of England. A coronation is not necessary for a monarch to reign. King Edward VIII was never crowned, yet during his short reign was the undoubted king. The length of time between accession and coronation varies. Below are the dates for accessions and coronations since Queen Victoria.

  • Queen Victoria: Accession – June 20, 1837; Coronation – June 28, 1838
  • King Edward VII: Accession – June 22, 1901; Coronation – August 9, 1902 (Coronation was scheduled for June 26, 1902, but was postponed because the king had an appendectomy on June 24, 1902.)
  • King George V: Accession – May 6, 1910; Coronation – June 22, 1911
  • King Edward VIII: Accession – January 20, 1936; No coronation, but it had been scheduled for May 12, 1937
  • King George VI: Accession – December 11, 1936; Coronation – May 12, 1937 (Preparations had been underway for Edward VIII’s coronation, so the date and the preparations were passed on the George VI)
  • Queen Elizabeth II: Accession – February 6, 1952; Coronation – June 2, 1953

The United Kingdom is the only European kingdom that still has coronations. The other kingdoms that still crown their rulers are Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Thailand, and Tonga.

Practices in other European kingdoms:

  • Belgium: The monarch’s formal installation requires only a solemn oath on the constitution in parliament symbolizing the limited power allowed to the monarch under the 1831 Constitution. Belgium has no crown or regalia.
  • Denmark: Coronation was abolished with the introduction of the Danish Constitution in 1849. The public announcement of a monarch’s accession is made from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, with the new monarch being acclaimed by her Prime Minister. The crown of Denmark is only displayed at the monarch’s funeral when it lies on top of the coffin.
  • Liechtenstein: Traditionally, the Sovereign Prince attends a mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Vaduz, followed by a choral display.
  • Luxembourg: The Grand Duke or Grand Duchess of Luxembourg is enthroned at a ceremony held in the nation’s parliament. The Grand Duke of Grand Duchess takes an oath of loyalty to the state constitution and then attends a solemn mass at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Luxembourg has no crown or regalia.
  • Monaco: The Sovereign Prince or Sovereign Princess attends a special investiture ceremony, consisting of a festive mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, followed by a reception where the new Sovereign Prince or Sovereign Princess meets his people. Monaco has no crown or regalia.
  • The Netherlands: The Dutch monarch is sworn in and inaugurated in Amsterdam at a public joint session of the two houses of the States General held at the Nieuwe Kerk. The crown, orb, sword of state and scepter are placed on cushions surrounded by a copy of the Dutch constitution. During the ceremony, the monarch is seated on a throne opposite the crown, regalia, and constitution as he or she takes his formal oath to uphold the kingdom’s fundamental law and protect the country with everything within his or her power. After the monarch has taken the oath, all members of the States General pay homage to the new monarch by taking an oath of loyalty to him or her.
  • Norway: The Norwegian constitution of 1814 required the Norwegian monarch to be crowned, but this requirement was repealed in 1908. Since then, the monarch has only been required to take a formal accession oath in the Council of State and then in the Storting (parliament). King Olav V, desired a religious ceremony to mark his accession to the throne in 1957, and so he instituted a ceremony of royal consecration. This consecration took place again in 1991 when King Harald V and Queen Sonja were similarly consecrated. Both consecrations were held where the coronation rite had formerly taken place, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.
  • Spain: The Spanish monarch appears at the Cortes (parliament), where he or she takes a formal oath to uphold the constitution. The crown is at the ceremony, but it is never placed on the monarch’s head.
  • Sweden: The coronation rite was last used to crown King Oscar II in 1873. Subsequent monarchs of Sweden chose not to be crowned, but there is no law preventing a coronation. The current monarch King Carl XVI Gustaf, during a meeting of the cabinet, took the then-required royal assurance (in Swedish Konungaförsäkran) to fulfill the duties associated with the office and not exceed them. The Riksdag Act of 1974 no longer requires that the monarch take the royal assurance, but says the monarch “can” take the royal assurance before the Riksdag (parliament). After King Carl XVI Gustaf took the royal assurance, he was enthroned in a simple ceremony in the throne room of the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The crown jewels were displayed on cushions to the right and left of the throne, but were never given to the king. From the throne, King Carl Gustaf made an accession speech.

Coronation of King Harold II at Westminster Abbey in 1066 from the Bayeaux Tapestry; Credit – Wikipedia

We can assume that future coronations will be similar to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. The main elements of the coronation service and the earliest form of the oaths taken can be traced to the ceremony devised by Saint Dunstan for the coronation of King Edgar in 973 AD at Bath Abbey. Westminster Abbey was closed for five months prior to the Elizabeth II’s coronation so that the construction needed for 8,000 people to attend could be completed. Elizabeth II’s coronation was televised and we can expect lots of media coverage for future coronations.

Queen Elizabeth II traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach which was built in 1762 and has been used for the coronation of every monarch since King George IV.  It is estimated that 3 million people lined the streets of London that day.

Wikipedia: Gold State Coach

Gold State Coach, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Upon arrival at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth was attended by six aristocratic young women who served as Maids of Honor.

    • Lady Moyra Hamilton, 22, daughter of the Marquess of Hamilton, later 4th Duke of Abercorn
    • Lady Anne Coke, 20, daughter  of the 5th Earl of Leicester
    • Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 20, daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry
    • Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, 19, daughter of the 12th Earl of Haddington
    • Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 18, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Ancaster
    • Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, 23, daughter of 10th Duke of Marlborough

 The Queen arrives at Westminster Abbey

 

After the Queen’s procession into Westminster Abbey, the coronation service started.

An Anglican Liturgical Library: Form and Order of the Service of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Westminster Abbey Music Played at the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Recognition: The Archbishop of Canterbury along with Lord Chancellor, Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord High Constable, and Earl Marshal proceeded to the East, South, West, and North sides of the coronation theater.  Each time the Archbishop said, “Sirs, I here present unto you Queen ELIZABETH, your undoubted Queen: Wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage and service, Are you willing to do the same?”  The People replied each time, “God Save Queen Elizabeth.”

The Oath: The Queen, seated in the Chair of Estate, took the Coronation Oath administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  She then proceeded to the altar and solemnly swore the Oath with her right hand on the Bible.  Afterward, she kissed the Bible and signed the Oath.

The Communion Service: Traditional service of the Anglican Church

The Anointing:  After being disrobed of her crimson robe, the Queen sat in King Edward’s Chair.  Four Knights of the Garter held a canopy over her.  The Dean of Westminster took the Ampulla which held the Holy Oil and poured some into the Spoon.  The Archbishop then anointed the Queen in the form of a cross on the palms of both hands, the breast, and the crown of the head.  The canopy was removed and the Queen was dressed in the Colobium Sindonis, a simple sleeveless white linen shift,  and the Supertunica, a long coat of gold silk which reaches to the ankles and has wide-flowing sleeves.

British Crown Jewels

Regalia used in the coronation; Photo Credit – rachelsprengeler.blogspot.com

The Presenting of the Spurs and Sword, and the Oblation of the Sword of State: The Spurs were brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster, and given to the Lord Great Chamberlain who presented them to the Queen.  Afterward, the Spurs were returned to the altar.  Next, the Archbishop took the Sword from the altar and assisted by the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Winchester put the Sword the Queen’s hands and said a prayer.  The Queen then went to the altar, returned the sword to its scabbard, and sat down in King Edward’s Chair.

Dressed in the Sindonis and Supertunica, the Queen returns the Sword of State to the altar, Photo Credit – members.boardhost.com

The Investing with the Armills, the Stole Royal and the Robe Royal: and the Delivery of the Orb: The Dean of Westminster delivered the Armills to the Archbishop, who said a prayer while putting them on the Queen’s wrists.  The Queen stood and was clothed with the Robe Royal.  After she sat down, the Sovereign’s Orb was brought from the altar by the Dean of Westminster and delivered into the Queen’s right hand by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Queen then gave the orb to the Dean of Westminster who returned it to the altar.

Sovereign's Orb

Sovereign’s Orb; Photo Credit – https://www.royalcollection.org.uk

The Investiture per annulum, et per sceptrum et baculum: The Keeper of the Jewel House gave the Queen’s Ring, which was set with a sapphire and a ruby cross, to the Archbishop of Canterbury who put it on the fourth finger of the Queen’s right hand, and said a prayer.  The Dean of Westminster brought the Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove to the Archbishop, who put it in the Queen’s left hand and said a prayer.

The Putting on of the Crown:  The people stood up and the Archbishop of Canterbury took St. Edward’s Crown from the altar, then laid it back on the altar, and said a prayer.  The Archbishop then proceeded to the Queen who was sitting in King Edward’s Chair.  The Dean of Westminster brought him the crown and the Archbishop reverently put the crown on the Queen’s head.  The people repeatedly shouted, “God Save The Queen.”  The Princes and Princesses, the Peers and Peeresses put on their coronets and caps, and the Kings of Arms their crown.  Trumpets sounded, and the great guns at the Tower of London were fired.

Elizabeth_crowning

The Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to crown the Queen; www.dailymail.co.uk

Elizabeth_crowned

The crowned Queen; Photo Credit – www.telegraph.co.uk

The Benediction:  Now that the Queen had been anointed and crowned, and had received all the signs of the sovereign, the Archbishop of Canterbury blessed her and all those assembled at Westminster Abbey replied with a loud Amen.

The Enthroning:  The Queen went to the throne, and was lifted up into it by the Archbishops and Bishops, and other Peers of the Kingdom.  Lords bearing the regalia stood on the steps around the throne.

The Homage: After the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Duke of Edinburgh offered their fealty to the Queen, all princes and peers present did likewise, saying to her, ” I, (name) Duke, or Earl, etc., of (name) do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God.”

 

The Communion: Queen Elizabeth knelt and took communion, in a service that included a general confession and absolution, and, along with the people, recited the Lord’s Prayer.

The Recess: The Queen proceeded to Saint Edward’s Chapel, gave St. Edward’s Crown and the Sceptre and the Rod to the Archbishop of Canterbury who laid them on the altar in the chapel.  The Queen was then the Queen disrobed of the Robe Royal and clothed in a Robe of purple velvet and the Imperial State Crown.  The Archbishop of Canterbury put the Sceptre with the Cross into her right hand and the Orb in her left hand.  The Queen left the St. Edward’s Chapel to the singing of the National Anthem and then proceeded up the aisle.

Queen Elizabeth proceeding up the aisle of Westminster Abbey after her coronation, Photo Credit – www.guardian.co.uk

When The Monarch Dies: The Burial

by Susan Flantzer

Westminster Abbey in London; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

The traditional burial places of English/British monarchs since the Norman Conquest in 1066 have been Westminster Abbey in London and St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Three of the seven Norman and Angevin monarchs were buried in France in lands they held as Duke of Normandy or Count of Anjou. The tombs of several monarchs have been destroyed. The fate and the burial place of Edward V, one of the “Little Princes in the Tower,” is unknown. James II who lived out his life in exile after he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was buried in France. The first Hanoverian king, George I, was traveling to back to his homeland when he suffered a stroke, died, and was then buried in Hanover. While we associate grandiose tombs with royalty, it is interesting to note that some monarchs have no tomb or memorial, but simply a plaque in the floor and a few monarchs had no plaque, memorial or tomb.

 Conservation work being done in the chapel of Edward the Confessor’s shrine. Tombs of kings and queens are around the perimeter of the chapel.

In 1042, Edward the Confessor began rebuilding St. Peter’s Abbey to provide himself with a royal burial church, the first Westminster Abbey. Construction of the second and present church was begun in 1245 by Henry III who selected the site for his burial. In 1269, Henry III oversaw a grand ceremony to rebury Edward the Confessor in a magnificent new shrine, personally helping to carry the body of the saint to its new resting place. When Henry III died in 1272, he was buried in the original coffin of Edward the Confessor. Eventually, a grander tomb was built for Henry III and in 1290, his remains were moved to their current location in Westminster Abbey, in a tomb directly north of Edward the Confessor’s shrine. Nearby the shrine of Edward the Confessor, kings, their wives, and their relatives were buried over the years.

 Henry VII Chapel: In the vaults under the chapel, many royals are buried. The tomb of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York is in the center of the photo.

In 1502, Henry VII started the rebuilding of the Lady Chapel, devoted to the Virgin Mary, at Westminster Abbey. The old Lady Chapel was demolished in 1502, construction began in January 1503 and was completed in 1509. The beautiful chapel, known as the Henry VII Chapel, is famous for its spectacular pendant fan vault ceiling. Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York are buried in the chapel in a magnificent tomb. The vaults under the chapel became the burial place for many of his successors and members of the royal family. George II was the last monarch buried there. In 1790, the last British royal was buried at Westminster Abbey, Prince Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and a younger brother of George III.

St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; Photo Credit – By Aurelien Guichard from London, United Kingdom – WindsorUploaded by BaldBoris, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15203080

By the time of George II’s death in 1760, the royal burial vaults at Westminster Abbey were quite crowded. His successor, his grandson George III, decided to build a new royal vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. St. George’s Chapel was built during the reign of Edward III (reigned 1327-1377) The new Royal Vault was constructed in 1804 under what is now the Albert Memorial Chapel, which had originally been intended to serve as a chapel for the tombs of Henry VII and his successors. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, is not buried there, but his son Prince Leopold and his grandson Prince Albert Victor (Prince Eddy) are.

 An artist’s view inside the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel

Above is a view inside the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel. Caskets were placed on the shelves along the sides. The bench in the middle was used as a temporary place for caskets waiting to be buried elsewhere. None of the Hanovers buried in the Royal Vault have a memorial except Princess Charlotte of Wales, who tragically died in childbirth at age 21 and most likely would have succeeded her father George IV to the throne.

Memorial to Charlotte; Photo Credit – http://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/

The vault is accessible from the Choir of St. George’s Chapel where a portion of the floor could be raised for lowering coffins into the passage that led to the vault. In 1873, steps to the vault were added behind the high altar and a mechanically-operated platform was installed to ease the lowering of coffins into the vault. In the photo below, the Royal Vault is open as the coffin of King George V has been lowered into the vault following his funeral.

Princess Amelia, the youngest child of George III, was the first person buried in the new Royal Vault in 1810. George III’s two youngest sons, Prince Alfred who died at age two in 1782 and Prince Octavius who died at age four in 1783, were both originally buried at Westminster Abbey.  Their remains were moved to the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on February 11, 1820, shortly after their father’s death.  Burials in the Royal Vault continued until 1927.

Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore; Photo Credit – By WyrdLight.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14615493

In 1928, the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, adjacent to Queen Victoria’s mausoleum and near Windsor Castle, was consecrated as a cemetery for junior members of the British Royal Family. One monarch, Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936 after ten months on the throne, was buried at the Royal Burial Ground. At the time of the consecration, eight coffins of junior royals were moved from the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel and interred at the new Royal Burial Ground. Presumably, the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel could then be used for the burial of future monarchs and their consorts. Since that time, there have been no permanent burials in the Royal Vault. Many remains interred at the Royal Burial Ground temporarily rested in the Royal Vault before transfer to Frogmore. The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore is the final resting place of Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. A crypt below Victoria and Albert’s tomb has nine spaces that were reserved for the couple’s nine children, but none of them were buried there.

Queen Victoria’s Royal Mausoleum in Frogmore with the Royal Burial Ground in the front; Photo Credit – By Gill Hicks, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3347750

It is assumed that there are burial plans for Elizabeth II, but they have not yet been announced to the public. The most likely burial place is at St. George’s Chapel, but there is available space at the Royal Burial Ground and in Queen Victoria’s mausoleum, although those possibilities seem unlikely. It is also possible that a new tomb or mausoleum could be built for the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch.

 Interior of the Royal Mausoleum, burial place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

It seems there is a history of constructing tombs after a death. Four days after the death of Prince Albert in December 1861, Queen Victoria ordered a mausoleum to be built at Frogmore in Windsor Great Park where both she and Albert would be interred. Albert was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault and in March 1862, construction of the mausoleum began. In December 1862, Albert’s coffin was transferred to the Royal Mausoleum. When Queen Victoria died in January 1901, her coffin rested in the Albert Memorial Chapel for two days after the funeral and then it was transferred to the Royal Mausoleum.

Tomb of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Photo source: www.findagrave.com

Elizabeth II’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are all buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, but not in the Royal Vault. Her great-grandfather Edward VII who died in 1910, was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault while a tomb with recumbent effigies was completed on the south side of the high altar in St. George’s Chapel. When Edward VII’s wife Alexandra died in 1925, the king’s coffin was removed from the Royal Vault and placed with his wife’s in front of the altar in the Albert Memorial Chapel. On April 22, 1927, both coffins were placed in the tomb.

Tomb of King George V and Queen Mary; Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

George V, the grandfather of Elizabeth II, died in 1936 and was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault. A tomb with recumbent effigies was built at the west end of the north aisle of the nave of St. George’s Chapel. George V’s coffin was removed from the Royal Vault and interred in the tomb on April 23, 1939. He wife Mary was interred in the tomb when she died in 1953.

King George VI Memorial Chapel; Photo Credit – Connie Nissinger www.findagrave.com

Elizabeth II’s father, George VI died in 1952, and like his two predecessors was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault. After lengthy discussions, a memorial chapel was built on the north side of St. George’s Chapel between 1967-1969. This was the first major addition to St. George’s Chapel since 1504. In March 1969, George VI’s coffin was transferred from the Royal Vault to the new King George VI Memorial Chapel. When his wife Elizabeth The Queen Mother died in 2002, her coffin was interred there along with the ashes of her daughter Margaret who had died in February 2002.

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

Recommended Book
The Royal Tombs of Great Britain by Aiden Dodson

Websites
Westminster Abbey – Royals
St. George’s Chapel – Royal Burials
Wikipedia: Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore

Below is some brief information about the burials of English/British monarchs since the Norman Conquest in 1066. For more information, see Unofficial Royalty: British Royal Burial Sites

House of Normandy

House of Angevin

  • Henry II: Abbaye de Fontevraud in Anjou, France, remains destroyed by French Huguenots in 1562, effigy survived
  • Richard I: Abbaye de Fontevraud in Anjou, France, remains destroyed by French Huguenots in 1562, effigy survived
  • John: tomb in Worcester Cathedral

House of Plantagenet

  • Henry III: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Edward I: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Edward II: tomb in Gloucester Cathedral
  • Edward III: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Richard II: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London

House of Lancaster

  • Henry IV: tomb in Canterbury Cathedral
  • Henry V: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Henry VI: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

House of York

  • Edward IV: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
  • Edward V: unknown
  • Richard III: buried at Greyfriars Church in Leicester which was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, remains discovered in a car park and were re-interred at Leicester Cathedral in 2015

House of Tudor

  • Henry VII: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Henry VIII: buried in a vault in the Choir of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, plaque in floor
  • Edward VI: tomb in Westminster Abbey in London
  • Jane: after execution buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London
  • Mary I: shared tomb with Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey in London
  • Elizabeth I: shared tomb with Mary I at Westminster Abbey in London

House of Stuart

  • James I: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • Charles I: buried in a vault with Henry VIII in the Choir in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, plaque in floor
  • Charles II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • James II: buried in Chapel of Saint Edmund at the English Benedictines in Paris, France which was destroyed during the French Revolution, viscera rediscovered and reburied in 1824 at the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
  • Mary II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • William III: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • Anne: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor

House of Hanover

  • George I: buried at the Chapel of Leine Castle in Hanover, Germany; re-interred in the mausoleum at Herrenhausen in Hanover, Germany in 1956
  • George II: buried in the vault beneath the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London, plaque in floor
  • George III: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • George IV: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • William IV: buried in the Royal Vault at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, no plaque, memorial or tomb
  • Victoria: tomb in Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, adjacent to Windsor Castle

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

  • Edward VII: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

House of Windsor

  • George V: tomb in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
  • Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor): Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, adjacent to Windsor Castle
  • George VI: buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

When The Monarch Dies: The State Funeral

by Susan Flantzer

The funeral procession of King Edward VII in Windsor; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

In the United Kingdom, a state funeral is usually reserved for the monarch or for a very distinguished person with the approval of the monarch and Parliament such as Sir Winston Churchill‘s funeral in 1965. While there are funeral plans for Queen Elizabeth II, they have not been made public.  There could possibly be changes from the past state funerals of monarchs such as the place of the funeral and/or the burial place.  While there has not been a monarch’s funeral at Westminster Abbey since King George II’s funeral in 1760, it is quite possible that the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be held there.  It is expected that most of the traditions outlined here will be followed.

The members of the British Royal Family who have had state funerals since 1901 are:

1901: Queen Victoria at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1910: King Edward VII at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1936: King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1952: King George VI at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Another classification of funerals in the United Kingdom is ceremonial funerals, usually reserved for senior members of the Royal Family, generally for those who hold high military rank, the consort of the monarch and heir to the throne, and high-ranking public figures such as the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1979 and Baroness Thatcher in 2013.

The members of the British Royal Family who have had ceremonial funerals since 1952 are:

1953: Queen Mary, wife of King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1974: The Duke of Gloucester, son of King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, former wife of The Prince of Wales at Westminster Abbey, London
2002: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, wife of King George VI at Westminster Abbey, London

Other members of the British Royal Family have private funerals such as the funeral of Princess Margaret in 2002.

Parliament: State and Ceremonial Funerals

State funerals of recent past monarchs have had the features below with the exception of the state funeral of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria wanted no public lying-in-state and therefore the only public event in London was a gun-carriage procession from one train station to another. She had died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and her coffin was transported via boat and train to Waterloo Station in London. Then the coffin was transported by gun carriage to Paddington Station for the train journey to Windsor.

Coffin is brought to Westminster Hall in London: From the place of death, the coffin is transported to London, if necessary, and then brought by horse-drawn gun carriage escorted by military, officials, and mourners to Westminster Hall for the lying-in-state.

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Lying-In-State in Westminster Hall: During the lying-in-state period, which occurs before the funeral, the coffin rests on a raised platform in the middle of Westminster Hall. Each corner of the platform is guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry.  Members of the public file past the coffin and pay their respects. See Unofficial Royalty: When The Monarch Dies: Lying-In-State in Westminster Hall

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Coffin is brought from Westminster Hall to Windsor: The gun carriage carrying the coffin is hauled from Westminster Hall to Paddington Station by sailors from the Royal Navy accompanied by several military contingents, State office-holders, the Royal Household and the deceased monarch’s personal staff and servants. The late monarch’s equerries serve as pallbearers and walk alongside the coffin which is escorted by the monarch’s bodyguards: the Gentlemen at Arms and the Yeomen of the Guard. The Royal Family (as chief mourners) follow the coffin, along with foreign and Commonwealth representatives. The journey from Westminster Hall to Paddington Station takes two hours. The coffin, mourners, and officials then travel by train to Windsor, where the procession re-forms for the short journey to Windsor Castle.

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St. George’s Chapel, Windsor; Photo Credit – By Andrewkbrook1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28086094

Funeral service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle or Westminster Abbey, London: The funeral service for the monarch is the same as for a commoner, the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer. See Church of England: The Outline Order for Funerals and The Funeral Service. If the funeral is at Westminster Abbey, it is probable that the coffin will be transferred to Windsor for burial as described above.

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Burial: King Edward VII, King George V, and King George VI were all buried at St. George’s Chapel.  Before the burial, the Garter King of Arms pronounces the formal style of the deceased monarch. As the coffin is lowered into the vault, the Lord Chamberlain breaks his white stave of office to symbolize the end of his period of service to the late monarch. After Queen Victoria’s funeral, her coffin rested for two days in the Albert Memorial Chapel in St. George’s Chapel. Her coffin was then taken by horse-drawn gun carriage the short distance to Frogmore Mausoleum to rest beside her husband Prince Albert. See Unofficial Royalty: When The Monarch Dies: The Burial. (published 4/13/17)

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

For more specific information on funerals of recent monarchs, see:

When The Monarch Dies: Lying-in-State in Westminster Hall

by Susan Flantzer

Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, London from Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-11); Credit – Wikipedia

On the River Thames in London sits the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The building we see today was built after a fire destroyed the medieval Palace of Westminster in 1834. The first royal palace was built on the site in the 11th century and was the primary residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the palace in 1512. After that, it served as the home of Parliament. Westminster Hall, built in 1097, survived both fires.  It was saved from the flames of 1834 because of the actions of the floating fire engine on the River Thames and also because a change in the wind direction kept the flames away.

The Palace of Westminster from the River after the Fire of 1834; Credit – Wikipedia

Westminster Hall is an impressive structure even today. It was built during the reign of King William II Rufus, the son of King William I the Conqueror. At the time it was built in 1097, it was the largest hall in Europe. It measures 240 by 67 feet (73 by 20 meters) and has an area of 16,080 square feet (1,460 square meters). Originally the roof was flat, but during the reign of King Richard II, the flat roof was replaced by a spectacular hammerbeam roof called “the greatest creation of medieval timber architecture” by the royal carpenter Hugh Herland.

 

Westminster Hall was often used for judicial purposes and was the setting for some of the most famous state trials in British history. The trials of Sir William Wallace in 1305, Sir Thomas More in 1535, Cardinal John Fisher in 1535, Guy Fawkes in 1606, King Charles I in 1649, and the rebel Scottish lords of the 1715 uprising and 1745 uprising were held in Westminster Hall. From the 12th to the 19th century, coronation banquets honoring new monarchs were held at Westminster Hall. The last coronation banquet held there was for King George IV in 1821. His successor King William IV thought the coronation banquet expense was too great and the idea was abandoned.

King George IV’s coronation banquet in 1821; Credit – Wikipedia

It is expected that the practice of deceased monarchs and deceased consorts lying-in-state at Westminster Hall will continue. Recent royal lyings-in-state:

1910 – King Edward VII
1936 – King George V
1952 – King George VI
1953 – Queen Mary, wife of King George V
2002 – Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, wife of King George VI

During the lying-in-state period, which occurs before the funeral, the coffin rests on a raised platform in the middle of Westminster Hall. Each corner of the platform is guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards or the Household Cavalry. Each unit mans the guard for a total of six hours, with each detachment standing post for twenty minutes. The four soldiers stand at each corner with heads bowed, weapons inverted and their backs turned towards the coffin. Members of the public file past the coffin and pay their respects.

 King George VI lying-in-state

 

On two occasions, the guard has been mounted by four male members of the Royal Family, unofficially called “The Vigil of the Princes.”  At the lying-in-state of King George V in 1936, his four sons King Edward VIII, The Duke of York, The Duke of Gloucester and The Duke of Kent took guard around their father’s coffin. For Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s lying-in-state in 2002, her four grandsons, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex, and Viscount Linley (now 2nd Earl of Snowdon) stood guard.

YouTube: Queen Mother: Lying in State – “The Vigil of the Princes “

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

 The four grandsons of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother standing guard

When The Monarch Dies: Proclamation of The New Monarch

by Susan Flantzer

Reading the Proclamation of the Accession of Edward VII, St. James’ Palace by Enoch Ward; Credit – http://www.artnet.com

YouTube: The Queen’s Accession, 1952

At the conclusion of Part I of the Accession Council, orders regarding the public readings of the Accession Proclamation and the traditional firing of guns at Hyde Park and the Tower of London are discussed. Then the Garter King of Arms, accompanied by the Earl Marshal, who is responsible for the ceremonial arrangements relating to the Proclamation, other Officers of Arms and the Sergeants at Arms, will read the Proclamation from the Proclamation Gallery above Friary Court at St. James’ Palace in London, where the Accession Council was held. The following was the proclamation read in public for Queen Elizabeth II’s accession:

Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign Lord King George the Sixth of Blessed and Glorious memory, by whose Decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth
Alexandra Mary:

WE, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being here assisted with these His late Majesty’s Privy Council, with representatives of other Members of the Commonwealth, with other Principal Gentlemen of Quality, with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of London, do now hereby with one voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim that the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of all Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom Her lieges do acknowledge all Faith and constant Obedience with hearty and humble Affection, beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess Elizabeth the Second with long and happy Years to reign over us.

 Proclamation Gallery above Friary Court at St. James’ Palace

 

Coinciding with the reading of the Proclamation, gun salutes occur at the Tower of London and Hyde Park. The basic salute is 21 rounds, fired at ten-second intervals. However, because Hyde Park is a Royal Park, an extra 20 rounds are fired for a total of 41 rounds. 61 rounds are fired at the Tower of London on Tower Wharf facing the River Thames: the basic salute of 21 rounds, an extra 20 rounds because the Tower of London is a Royal Palace and 20 more rounds because the Tower of London is located in the City of London.

YouTube: Gun salutes to mark Queen’s 90th birthday

 

Once the Proclamation has been read from the Proclamation Gallery above Friary Court at St James’ Palace, the heralds travel through London and read it at various points in London including Trafalgar Square and the original site of Temple Bar on Fleet Street until they reach the Royal Exchange where it is read aloud in the presence of the Lord Mayor of London. By tradition, the Proclamation is also read publicly in Edinburgh, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and in other locations. The anniversary is observed throughout the monarch’s reign as Accession Day with royal gun salutes.

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

 

 

When The Monarch Dies: The Accession Council

by Susan Flantzer

The First Council of Queen Victoria by Sir David Wilkie, 1838; Credit – Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Usually, within 24 hours of the monarch’s death, the Accession Council meets at St. James’ Palace in London to formally proclaim the accession of the deceased monarch’s successor. Upon the death of the monarch, there is an immediate transference of power. The heir to the throne becomes the new monarch immediately upon his/her predecessor’s death. The Accession Council confirms by name the identity of the heir who has succeeded.

St. James’ Palace in London where the Accession Council meets; By Brian Harrington Spier from Shanghai, China – Diamond Jubilee: 3rd June 2012, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39691524

The Accession Council consists of all Privy Counsellors, Great Officers of State, Lord Mayor of London, the Court of Aldermen, and High Commissioners of the Realms. The largest contingent of the Accession Council comes from Privy Council, a formal group of advisers to the monarch, which has hundreds of members composed mostly of politicians and civil servants, both current and retired, all of whom are appointed for life. Usually, several members of the Royal Family are members of the Privy Council. Currently, The Duke of EdinburghThe Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duke of Cambridge are members of the Privy Council.

The Privy Council Office will send notices to all Privy Counsellors advising them of the Accession Council. Not all Privy Counsellors will be able to attend at such short notice, but that will not affect the process of the Accession Council. Traditionally, invitations are also sent to the Lord Mayor of London, the Court of Aldermen and the High Commissioners of the Realms.

The Accession Council is presided over by the Lord President of the Council, is divided into two parts:

  • Part l: Without the presence of the new monarch, the new monarch is proclaimed and certain orders are made relating to the Proclamation.
  • Part ll: The new monarch holds his or her first Council.

Usually, but not always, Part II directly follows Part I. When King George VI died on February 6, 1952, his successor Queen Elizabeth II was in Kenya. Part I of the Accession Council was held on February 6, 1952 at 5 PM. Upon Queen Elizabeth II’s return from Kenya, Part II was held on February 8, 1952 at 10 AM.

During Part I of the Accession Council, the Lord President of the Council announces the recent death of the monarch and then calls upon the Clerk of the Council to read aloud the Accession Proclamation. The following is the Accession Proclamation used for Queen Elizabeth II. It is expected that future Accession Proclamations will follow a similar format.

Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign Lord King George the Sixth of Blessed and Glorious memory, by whose Decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary: WE, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being here assisted with these His late Majesty’s Privy Council, with representatives of other Members of the Commonwealth, with other Principal Gentlemen of Quality, with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of London, do now hereby with one voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim that the High and Mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of all Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom Her lieges do acknowledge all Faith and constant Obedience with hearty and humble Affection, beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess Elizabeth the Second with long and happy Years to reign over us.

Then the Accession Proclamation is signed by any members of the Royal Family present who are Privy Counsellors, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York, the Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Earl Marshal, and the Lord President of the Council. After the signing, the Accession Council deals with orders regarding the public readings of the Accession Proclamation and the traditional firing of guns at Hyde Park and the Tower of London.

Part II of the Accession Council is attended by the new monarch along with only the Privy Counsellors. This part begins with the new monarch’s personal Declaration relating to the death of the previous monarch. On February 8, 1952, Queen Elizabeth II said:

By the sudden death of my dear Father, I am called to assume the duties and responsibilities of Sovereignty. At this time of deep sorrow, it is a profound consolation to me to be assured of the sympathy which you and all my peoples feel towards me, to my Mother and Sister and to the other members of my family. My Father was our revered and beloved head as he was of the wider family of his subjects. The grief which his loss brings is shared among us all. My heart is too full for me to say more to you today than that I shall always work as my Father did throughout his reign to uphold constitutional Government and to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples spread as they are all the world over. I know that in my resolve to follow his shining example of service and devotion, I shall be inspired by the loyalty and affection of those whose Queen I have been called to be, and by the Counsel of their elected Parliaments. I pray that God will help me to discharge worthily this heavy task that has been laid upon me so early in my life.

Under the Acts of Union 1707 which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland, the new monarch is required to make an oath to “maintain and preserve” the Church of Scotland. This oath is normally made at the Accession Council. The new monarch reads aloud the oath:

I, [INSERT TITLE] by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of My other Realms and Territories King, Defender of the Faith, do faithfully promise and swear that I shall inviolably maintain and preserve the Settlement of the true Protestant Religion as established by the Laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right and particularly by an Act intituled “An Act for securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government” and by the Acts passed in the Parliament of both Kingdoms for Union of the two Kingdoms, together with the Government, Worship, Discipline, Rights and Privileges of the Church of Scotland. So help me God.

The new monarch then signs two copies of the oath. The signing is witnessed by any members of the Royal Family present who are Privy Counsellors, the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Scotland, the First Minister of Scotland, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, the Advocate General for Scotland and the Lord President of the Court of Session. The Lord President of the Council then reads the remaining items on the List of Business which mainly concerning the use of the Seals, such as the Great Seal of the Realm that is used to symbolize the monarch’s approval of important state documents.

The Great Seal attached to a charter; By Mo McRoberts – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29936001

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death

Works Cited
“Accession council.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.
“The Accession council.” Privy Council. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

When The Monarch Dies: Immediately and Automatically

by Susan Flantzer

Londoners read of King George VI ‘s death; Photo Credit – BBC

On February 6, 1952, the news of the death of King George VI was announced to radio listeners around the world by the BBC’s John Snagge. Hear the announcement at BBC: Announcing the death of King George VI.  British news networks including the BBC and ITN practice how they will broadcast a monarch’s death.  It is likely that news of the monarch’s death will be broadcast immediately. However, if the death occurs overnight, the announcement could be delayed until early the following morning. BBC newscasters have dark clothing on standby in which to announce the death of a senior member of the Royal Family so that the faux pas that occurred on the BBC when Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother‘s death was announced by a newscaster wearing a gray suit and a red tie does not happen again. The BBC will suspend all planned programming and provide detailed coverage of the news regarding the death. It is likely that in the United States the cable news networks will carry extensive coverage. Through the Internet and social media, the news will quickly travel throughout the world.

 

In the United Kingdom, upon the death of the monarch, there is an immediate transference of power. The heir to the throne becomes the new monarch immediately upon his/her predecessor’s death. In the past, the time of this transference was usually known as family surrounded the deathbed of a dying monarch. However, this was not the case when Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne. Her father King George VI died during the night as he slept and was found in the morning by his valet. Elizabeth and her husband were on their way to a tour of Australia and New Zealand and had made a stop in Kenya. They had spent that night at Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park which offers guests a close view of the local wildlife and it is there that Elizabeth became Queen, sometime during the night of February 5/6, 1952.

The Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords; Photo Credit – http://www.parliament.uk

The line of succession is determined by several Acts of Parliament: The Bill of Rights 1689, The Act of Settlement 1701, and The Succession to The Crown Act 2013, which amended the two previous Acts. The Succession to The Crown Act 2013 formally went into effect on March 26, 2015. The Act put into place absolute primogeniture which means the eldest child born becomes the heir to his or her parent, regardless of gender. This is retroactive to those born after October 28, 2011. Another change affects those in the line of succession who marry a Roman Catholic. Under the previous rules, a person who married a Roman Catholic lost rights to succession. However, under the terms of the 2013 Act, this is no longer the case. Marriage to a Roman Catholic no longer excludes anyone. This change was retroactive and those who were removed due to their marriages were reinstated to the line of succession.

Arms of the Duchy of Cornwall; Credit – Wikipedia

Two titles are automatically bestowed in certain circumstances: Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, and their subsidiary titles. The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in England and was established by royal charter in 1337. An additional charter was issued in 1421 and is still intact. Those charters dictate that only the eldest living son of the monarch who is also the heir-apparent can be the Duke of Cornwall. Upon the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, her eldest living son Prince Charles became the heir-apparent and automatically became the Duke of Cornwall.

Coat of Arms of the Duke of Rothesay; Credit – Wikipedia

The Duke of Rothesay was traditionally the title of the heir-apparent to the Scottish throne. The title was created in 1398 and thereafter the heir-apparent to the Scottish Crown was the Duke of Rothesay. An Act of the Parliament of Scotland passed in 1469 stated that only the eldest living son of the monarch who is the heir-apparent can be the Duke of Rothesay. Since 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne as King James I after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, the English/British monarchs’ eldest living sons and heirs apparent automatically became the Duke of Rothesay. Again, upon the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, her eldest living son Prince Charles became the heir-apparent and automatically became the Duke of Rothesay.

With the Succession to The Crown Act 2013 changing the type of succession to absolute primogeniture in which the eldest child born becomes the heir to his or her parent, regardless of gender, there are some issues with the Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay titles. The original stipulations, that the titles can go to the eldest living son and heir-apparent are still in effect. Therefore, as the situation is as of now, there can be a female heir-apparent, but she cannot be Duchess of Cornwall or Duchess of Rothesay. There appears to have been some sort of groundwork laid for change should there be female heir-apparent in the future. The holdings of the Duchy of Cornwall provide an income for the heir-apparent. As part of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011, the way in which income from the Duchy of Cornwall is distributed was changed. Previously, the income could only be distributed to someone holding the title Duke of Cornwall. Now, the income can be distributed to the heir-apparent, regardless of the title. The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 stipulates that if the heir is a minor, 10% of the income will be distributed to the heir and the balance will be distributed to the Crown until the heir in 18-years-old.

The Prince of Wales’s Feathers; Credit – Wikipedia

A note about the Prince of Wales title: The heir-apparent to the British throne can be created Prince of Wales along with its subsidiary titles. This is not an automatic title and it is not required that the heir-apparent be created Prince of Wales. King Henry VIII‘s son, who succeeded him as King Edward VI, was never created Prince of Wales. Neither does the Prince of Wales need be the eldest son of the monarch.  When Frederick, Prince of Wales predeceased his father King George II, Frederick’s eldest son, the future King George III, became the heir-apparent and was created Prince of Wales by his grandfather.  However, he could not be Duke of Cornwall or Duke of Rothesay because he was not the eldest son of the monarch.  Queen Elizabeth II’s heir-apparent Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales in 1958, the year he became 10-years-old. However, Queen Victoria created her heir-apparent, the future King Edward VII, Prince of Wales when he was one-month-old. There appears to be no legal impediment to creating a female heir-apparent Princess of Wales.

Guardian: Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death