Queen Elizabeth II will be commemorated by pomp and ceremony as Britain begins a period of mourning on Friday to mark the death of its former monarch.
Gun salutes will ring out in the capital and bells will toll across the country, with churches, chapels, and cathedrals encouraged by the Church of England to open for prayers or a special service for mourners.
The Queen’s son and successor King Charles III spoke of his grief soon after Buckingham Palace announced the death of the 96-year-old monarch, who died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at Balmoral.
Charles will now turn his mind to matters of state as he begins his first full day as the nation’s new monarch having spent much of his 73 years in preparation for the role.
Tributes have flooded in from around the globe, hailing the Queen’s unwavering commitment to serving her country and the Commonwealth.
King Charles III acceded to the throne immediately upon the death of Elizabeth II at the age of 96 in the sanctuary of Balmoral Castle.
The new King and Queen consort – Charles and his wife Camilla – will return to London on Friday, and the new monarch is expected to address the nation on television on Friday evening.
Gun salutes – one round for every year of the Queen’s life – will be fired in central London on Friday and the new monarch will hold his first audience with the prime minister.
Truss and senior ministers will attend a public service of remembrance at St. Paul’s in central London.
On Saturday morning, an Accession Council – the formal proclamation of Charles as King – will take place at St James’s Palace in London.
The first public proclamation of the new sovereign will then be read in the open air from the Friary Court balcony at St. James’s Palace by the Garter King of Arms.
Charles will hold audiences, and the media will be briefed by the Earl Marshal, who is in charge of the accession and the Queen’s funeral, on the coming days.
After the Queen’s health worsened, the royal family – including the Queen’s four children – Charles, the Princess of Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex – and grandsons the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex – cleared their diaries and rushed to be by her bedside on Thursday.
Royal doctors had recommended she remain under medical supervision, with the Palace issuing an unusually detailed update earlier in the day, saying royal doctors were concerned for her health.
The Duchess of Sussex, whose troubled relationship with the monarchy has long been documented, remained down south after initially planning to accompany Harry to Scotland.
The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge, as Kate’s title is now, stayed in Windsor – less than a 10-minute walk from Meghan’s Frogmore Cottage residence – with her children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis having had their first full day at school.
Behind the scenes, the long-held London Bridge plans for the Queen’s death are being rapidly put into action, setting out the next 11 days according to a strict timetable which will feature a lying in state and then the solemnity and grandeur of a state funeral.
The arrangements have a more complex factor due to the Queen’s death being in Scotland – and have triggered Operation Unicorn – the contingency plans in case of such an event.
Members of the royal family will be expected in the coming days to hold a poignant vigil around the Queen’s coffin in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, and the Queen’s coffin will have to be transported by RAF plane back to London.
She is expected to lie in state in a few days’ time in London, with her funeral held in Westminster Abbey in central London, most likely on Monday Sept. 19. (PA Media/dpa/NAN)