This Is How Many Days The UK Will Be In Mourning Following The Queen’s Death

What exactly is the protocol for national mourning of The Queen?

The Queen

by Grazia |
Updated on

Buckingham Palace has announced that Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch Britain has ever seen, has died. At 96 years old, she wore the crown for 70 years, surpassing Queen Victoria by seven years. Her Majesty the Queen ascended to the throne in 1952, after her father King George VI passed away, and made serving the British nation her top priority.

During her magnificent reign, she served as monarch of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and numerous other realms and territories, as well as head of the Commonwealth, the group of 53 sovereign nations that includes many former British territories. She is credited with modernising many aspects of the monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Phillip on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. They later had four children. Her family also expanded over the years: Queen Elizabeth now has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

On April 9, 2021 Buckingham Palace announced the news that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died aged 99. He was the longest-serving consort in British history and they were married for an extraordinary 73 years. His devastating passing also poised the question as to how long the Queen would be able to fulfil her duties for. She has recently pulled out of a number of public functions, including The State Opening of Parliament.

After she was diagnosed with Covid earlier this year, many were worried about her health, asking: 'How is the Queen today? 'Well, that's what they were Googling at least – as well as 'Has the Queen lost weight?', 'How old is the Queen?' , 'What happens when the Queen dies?' and 'Has the Queen passed away?'

Of course, not all the Google searches were quite so... empathetic. Whenever the Queen's health declined, the top breakout search term on Google was 'Do we get a day off if the Queen dies?' followed by '12 days of mourning off work' and '12 days of mourning school'.

So, if wondering what the national mourning protocols are now that the Queen has died, here's everything you need to know...

Has the Queen passed away?

Buckingham Palace announced the Queen died at 6.30pm on Tuesday 8th September.

The Queen's health had been a cause for concern for a while. This stems from her positive Covid test in February and spells of illness causing her to pull back from public events over the last several months, including the Queen’s speech at Parliament. The monarch also faced ongoing 'episodic mobility problems', stretching back to last autumn, and was recently seen using a walking stick. Most recently during her Platinum Jubilee ( 2nd - 5th June) she pulled out of some of her celebrations due to discomfort.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said the Queen 'greatly enjoyed' her birthday parade and flypast in London but 'did experience some discomfort'. The statement continued, 'Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty, with great reluctance, has concluded that she will not attend.'

In the past palace aids also explained that she was experiencing 'mild cold-like symptoms' due to Covid, and that the Queen would continue 'light duties' at Windsor but 'will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.'

Queen Elizabeth II Royal visit.
Queen Elizabeth II visits the set of the television series, Coronation Street, on 8 July, 2021. ©Getty

On September 8th Buckingham palace announced the Queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral after doctors became concerned for her health. It was then announced that she had died.

Will the Queen's cause of death be announced?

There has been no word on Her Majesty's official cause of death – and there is not likely to ever be a public announcement. It has been noted that when Prince Phillip passed away in 2021, no such announcement was made. However, a month later it was revealed that his cause of death had simply been recorded as 'old age' by the head of the royal medical household, Sir Huw Thomas.

What are ‘episodic mobility issues’

As to what ‘episodic mobility issues’ actually are, this usually refers to infirmity or unsteadiness when walking, perhaps accompanied by weakness or joint pain in key areas. The Queen had been using a cane for the majority of her public apperances - which should be expected for someone of 96 years old.

What happens when the Queen dies?

Many are wondering what happens now that the Queen has passed away. The Queen Mother passed away in 2002 – the same year as Princess Margaret – at the impressive age of 102. But have the protocols for when a monarch dies changed much in the last 20 years?

Not according to The Daily Mail, which states that the chain of events that will follow the Queen’s death have been rehearsed for decades. Civil servants will use the code ‘London Bridge Is Down’ to signal that she has passed away.

Queen Elizabeth’s father George VI, who took the throne when his brother abdicated, was the last British monarch to die, 65 years ago. The news of his death was communicated by the code ‘Hyde Park Corner’.

What is Operation London Bridge?

According to The Guardian, the secret procedure that will trigger the chain of events when the Queen dies is known as ‘Operation London Bridge,’ and details how the news will be distributed to the press and the duties her family will undertake.

It is stated that the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, is the first official to hear the news, and it will be he that then informs the Prime Minister.

The news is then be passed to 36 other countries in the Commonwealth and then other world leaders, before the general public is told. Newsreaders interrupt television programmes and will be wearing black.

According to The Daily Mail, ‘a footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace, cross the dull pink gravel and pin a black-edged notice to the gates. While he does this, the palace website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background.’

From then Britain will enter a period of mourning that will last for 10 days. Prince Charles will then become King at 11am the following day, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s titles will be changed to Prince and Princess of Wales.

What is Operation Unicorn?

If the Queen dies in Balmoral, Scotland, Operation Unicorn is put into action, the most elaborate of all the possible outcomes. First, the Queen’s body will lie at rest at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, at the end of the Royal Mile, where, says the journalist Sam Knight, 'she is traditionally guarded by the Royal Company of Archers, who wear eagle feathers in their bonnets. Then the coffin will be carried up the Royal Mile to St Giles’s cathedral, for a service of reception, before being put on board the Royal Train at Waverley station for a sad progress down the east coast mainline.'

Crowds are expected at level crossings and on station platforms the length of the country – from Musselburgh and Thirsk in the north, to Peterborough and Hatfield in the south – to throw flowers on the passing train. (Another locomotive will follow behind, to clear debris from the tracks.)’

What happens to media coverage ?

The licence fee-funded BBC will suspend all programming and screen BBC One coverage of the event. If Her Majesty had died during the night, her death would reportedly not be announced until 8am, after which her portrait will be displayed on the screen accompanied by the national anthem - as happened following the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Where will the Queen's funeral be?

The Queen’s funeral is thought to take place 10 days after her death, and will be lead by the Archbishop of Canterbury and her coffin will be taken to Westminster Abbey by gun carriage.

It is so far unknown whether she will be buried with her father King George VI at the St George’s Chapel in Windsor or whether she will be laid to rest in Balmoral or Sandringham.

How many days do we get off when the Queen dies?

While the UK will partake in a 10-day mourning period, only the day of the Queen's funeral will be considered a national holiday. So, for anyone Googling '12 day mourning period off work', you won't get a full fortnight to mourn the Queen. Instead, on the day of the funeral, the London Stock Exchange will close as will most UK banks. The day will be considered a bank holiday, as well as the subsequent coronation of the next monarch.

Do children get 12 days of mourning at schools?

Just like us grown ups, children and school goers will observe the official national day of mourning for the Queen's death, which will be the day of her funeral.

Line of Succession

The Royal Family
The Royal Family attend The Commonwealth Service: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge sit inside Westminster Abbey . ©Getty

As we all know, Prince Charles is first in line to the throne so, will automatically become King. However, the Accession Council would need to take place at St James’s Palace to formally declare Charles the King.

Prince Charles would next have to to swear loyalty to Parliament and the Church of England in front of the council and them to him. Furthermore, the words to the National Anthem would be changed and new postage stamps and currency created to reflect Prince Charles’ ascension to the throne.

Following this, the Duke of Cambridge's title's will automatically change to Prince of Wales. This title is historically held by those first in line to the throne.

Click through for an ode to the Queen's incredible style...


An A-Z Guide On Dressing Like The Queen

Queen in Anello and Davide1 of 27


London-based footwear brand Anello and Davide is where the Queen purchases some of her favourite shoes. And it was recently revealed that Her Majesty has hired someone to break in her block heels... If that's not goals, then we don't know what is.

Queen with broaches2 of 27


The Queen's most cherished piece of jewellery? The brooch. Her Majesty is rarely seen without a bejewelled pin on the left of her jacket. She'll even go so far as to pesonalising her brooch depending on the country she is visiting.

Queen colour block3 of 27


The Queen of England? More like the Queen of colour-blocking. Her Majesty has a talent for making anything look brilliant whether its head-to-toe fuchsia or this season's 'It' hue, yellow.

Queen in jewels4 of 27


Diamonds are the Queen's best friend, after all.

Queen on tube5 of 27


Enjoy fashion. What inspires us the most about the Queen is the way in which she embraces fashion. She plays with the colour palette, experiments with hats and is never, ever short of Instagrammable accessorises. But the best part? She's always dressed for the day ahead. Whether she's travelling by horse-drawn carriage or, well, the tube...

Queen in flower crown6 of 27


Believe it or not, the Queen was the original festival girl. Just take a moment to appreciate the flower-embellished hats she donned in the late seventies.

Queen holding baby7 of 27


We can't help but wonder if the Queen inspired Princess Diana's love of colourful gloves?

Queen in headscarf8 of 27


We doubt the Queen ever has a bad hair day but if she does, she's got a failsafe plan. Whether she's out riding her horses or going on a state visit, Her Majesty is sure to don a fabulous headscarf. And of course, the accessory will always match her co-ords.

Queen in chic outfits9 of 27


Invest. The Queen rarely performs outfit repeats. So ensure you have a co-ord for every possible occasion. You never know who you might meet and quite frankly, it could be a little embarassing...

Queen in ceremonial gowns10 of 27


The Queen has reportedly never worn jeans. Or at least, she's never been spotted in public donning a pair.

Queen with corgis11 of 27


Keep your corgis close. The Queen's greatest accessories are of course her beloved pets. You cannot even begin to channel the Queen's majestic aesthetic without the help of the most quintessentially royal emblem there is.

Queen in sparkles12 of 27


Let loose on the sparkles. You needn't be a princess to don glitter. The Queen debuted one of our favourite looks to date back in 1964 when she attended a banquet at Claridges in a gold dress and fur stole.

Queen with handbag13 of 27


The Queen has been carrying the miniature handbag before we even knew they were a trend.

Queen with handbag14 of 27

Queen with handbag

But Her Majesty doesn't just carry them on the crook of her arm for sartorial purposes, as the secret reason behind her growing collection was recently revealed...

Queen wedding day15 of 27


Queen Elizabeth II married Philip Mountbatten on 20 November, 1947. As the second world war had only just come to an end, Her Majesty had to purchase material for her wedding dress using ration coupons. The gown was designed by Norman Hartnell and was made from white satin.

Queen in furs16 of 27


Rule number one when it comes to royal protocall? One can never be overdressed. So don layers of pearls, faux furs and always choose the sparkliest tiara.

Queen in pearls17 of 27


Well, you couldn't possibly rule as the Queen of England without pearls. Her Majesty is rarely spotted without a full set.

Queen in rainbow colors18 of 27


Rainbow hues. There isn't a colour on the spectrum that the Queen cannot pull off. Whether it's primary red or sunny yellow. We challenge you to find someone who wears it better. Good luck.

Queen in royal farms on throne19 of 27


Rule the fashion scene. The Queen is never afraid to don the brightest colour in the crowd or debut the sparkliest tiara. Channel Her Majesty this season with similar flair and enthusiasm. Do Liz proud.

Queen with mum20 of 27


Seek sartorial inspiration from your mum. Her Majesty often co-ordinated with the late Queen Mother. The mother/daughter duo often sported similar hats, hairstyles and miniature handbags.

Queen in trousers21 of 27


The Queen has only ever been photographed in trousers once. Her Majesty was pictured in a suit by Ian Thomas during the 1970 Royal Canadian Tour.

Queen with matching umbrella22 of 27


The Queen is as dedicated to fashion as she is to her royal duties. And if she's going to colour-block her outfit, she isn't one to do it half-heartedly. Her Majesty even goes so far as to co-ordinate her umbrellas to her outfits.

Queen in maximalist clothing23 of 27


Veer away from monochrome. The Queen is no Scandi-wannabe. Want proof? We challenge you to find an ounce of minimalism in her wardrobe. So channel the rainbow and you'll soon bring a smile to your colleague's faces. We'll be paying sartorial homage to Her Majesty next Monday in sunny yellow...

Queen on horseback24 of 27


Oh, one does love to go outdoors. The Queen is renowned for her adoration of horses and always dresses for the occasion. Her go-to outfit? Her Majesty often teams a waistcoat and waterproof with a co-ordinating headscarf and wellies.

Queen Elizabeth as a young princess25 of 27


XCI. The Queen has been reigning the style stakes for a grand 91 years. Impressive.

Queen in yellow26 of 27


The Queen is undoubtedly able to pull of any hue but our favourite? It has to be yellow. The sunny shade is a failsafe and the Queen has been donning the look long before any of us declared it the colour of the season.

Queen in zipped jacket with queen mum27 of 27


Zip up. Each of the Queen's outfits is fitted with a zip in preparation for endless outfit changes.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us