Britain has entered a ten-day period of official mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Buckingham Palace confirmed that the UK’s longest-reigning monarch died peacefully at Balmoral yesterday afternoon, 8 September, aged 96.
Liz Truss was working in Downing Street when she was informed of the Queen’s death at around 4.30pm on Thursday by the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. Shortly afterwards she spoke to the UK’s new head of state, King Charles III, who is expected to return to London from Balmoral today.
Truss later gave a statement outside Downing Street, dressed in black, calling the news a “huge shock to the nation and the world”. The new Prime Minister, who met the Queen and was invited to form a government by her on Tuesday (6 September), said the monarch had been “the rock on which modern Britain was built and our country has flourished under her reign.
“With the King’s family, we mourn the loss of his mother. And as we mourn, we must come together as a people to support him. To help him bear the awesome responsibility that he now carries for us all.”
The Prime Minister concluded her tribute: “With the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country, exactly as Her Majesty would have wished, by saying the words… God save the King.”
The Labour leader Keir Starmer also gave a televised address, saying: “Queen Elizabeth II created a special, personal relationship with us all. A relationship based on service and devotion to her country.
“Nobody under the age of 70 has known anything other than Queen Elizabeth II on the throne. For the vast majority of us, the late queen has been simply the Queen. The only queen. Above all else, our queen.”
He added: “Above the clashes of politics, she stood not for what the nation fought over, but what it agreed upon.”
The US president Joe Biden said: “Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy, who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special.”
The French president Emmanuel Macron said the Queen had embodied Britain’s continuity and unity for more than 70 years, adding: “She held a special status in France and a special place in the hearts of the French people.”
Today, King Charles III will give a broadcast message at 6pm today, in his first address to the nation as sovereign.
There will also be two simultaneous 96-gun salutes in London’s Hyde Park and Tower Bridge at 1pm, with each salute marking a year of the Queen’s life.
Buckingham Palace, meanwhile, has announced the Royal Family will remain in a period of mourning until seven days after the Queen’s funeral.
The Palace statement said: “Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, it is His Majesty The King’s wish that a period of Royal Mourning be observed from now until seven days after The Queen’s Funeral.
“Royal Mourning will be observed by Members of the Royal Family, Royal Household staff and Representatives of the Royal Household on official duties, together with troops committed to Ceremonial Duties.”
Charles ascended the throne immediately after the Queen died, but there will be an official coronation. There will be a bank holiday for the official crowning, but no date has been set and the event may not happen for some time yet.
The UK’s ten-day period of national mourning has now begun and is likely to culminate in a state funeral. Schools will remain open during this time but the civil service will provide minimal updates, operating in a similar manner to the purdah election periods. Full guidance will be issued to civil servants.
There will be no government announcements or ministerial visits during this time. Plans to freeze energy bills, as announced by Truss, will go ahead but will be communicated to the public in a factual way.
The Prime Minister chaired a meeting last night between representatives of the royal family, the Defence Secretary, the Home Secretary and others to plan the arrangements for mourning. More details about the precise plans will be known today.
The House of Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, has confirmed that MPs will give tributes in parliament today from 12pm to 10pm, and on Saturday from 2pm. Truss will open them.
Final arrangements for the state funeral will be announced by Buckingham Palace, not Downing Street.
[See also: Andrew Marr: the Queen’s death will shake us all]