Mourning Period

Eliana Fulton

Hours after welcoming new Prime Minister Liz Truss into her position, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II was under medical watch. Then, on September 8th, 2022, the Queen passed of underlying physical conditions, departing the monarchy of England after setting a precedent of respect and eloquence. The stricken country has begun a mourning period that will last until September 19th, the day of her funeral procession. 

On account of her death being in the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the event triggered a chain of occurrences called “Operation Unicorn,” which primarily consisted of shutting down Scottish Parliaments and transporting the Queen to Edinburgh for a flight back to London. A moment of silence was taken in honor of Her Majesty’s departure, and, in respect to her station, the Queen’s coffin was escorted by a grand royal procession that traveled across the country. This tour allowed her citizens to say their final goodbyes and to pay their last respects.

In his new reign, one of King Charles III’s first decrees was a request to extend the mourning period from the traditional twelve days to eighteen. Flags of royal residencies are flown at half mast as the Royal Family, members of the Household Staff, and British troops observe ceremonial duties. In day-to-day life, the mourning period maintains strict rules pertaining to a tradition of nationwide respect. These rules range from postponement of comedy television to the cancellation of sporting events. Meanwhile, many citizens have taken it upon their own accord to display their grief through the donning of dark clothing throughout the period. However, most schools and shops remain open across the country and continue to proceed through normal business.  

On September 19th, the United Kingdom observed a national Bank Holiday in which all banks, businesses, and schools were closed in honor of the Queen’s State Funeral. Many English citizens took the opportunity to view and/or attend Her Majesty’s celebration. Around 2,000 mourners gathered around Westminster Abbey as the Royal family continued their procession through the West Gate and into the more private service. The Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, opened the ceremony in the ancient abbey; a fitting location given that it was the same place she was married and crowned. She is laid to rest in Windsor Castle’s King George VI Memorial Chapel alongside her husband, Prince Phillip.

President Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden attended the event alongside several other world leaders, to pay their respects to the fallen symbol of global leadership. Even in the halls of College Park there have been acknowledgements of change, from the moment of silence that was taken on September 9th to the British-American students mourning a ruler of three generations.