Queen's committal service: traditional ceremonies mark end of monarch's reign

Range of traditions will surround service on Monday

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Features symbolising the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign will surround her committal service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, next week.

King Charles III, the royal family, realm prime ministers, governors-general and mourners from the queen’s household past and present, including personal staff from across her private estates, will form a congregation of 800 people in the gothic church on Monday.

Following the state funeral at Westminster Abbey, the service will take place at 4pm.

The queen’s coffin will be driven from London to Windsor in the state hearse, and make its way up the Long Walk, which will be lined with members of the armed forces.

The king and other members of the royal family will join the procession on foot behind the hearse in the castle’s quadrangle, with the queen consort, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Sussex and the Countess of Wessex following by car.

During the service, which will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor David Conner, the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre will be lifted from the queen’s coffin by the Crown Jeweller, separating the queen from her crown for the final time.

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With the help of the Bargemaster and Serjeants-at-Arms, the priceless Crown Jewels will be passed to the dean, who will place them on the High Altar.

At the end of the last hymn, the king will step forward and place the Grenadier Guards Queen’s Company Camp Colour — a smaller version of the Royal Standard of the Regiment — on the coffin.

The Grenadier Guards are the most senior of the Foot Guards regiments and the queen was their colonel in chief.

Only one Royal Standard of the Regiment is presented during a monarch’s reign, and it served as the Queen’s Company Colour throughout her lifetime.

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At the same time, former MI5 spy chief Baron Parker — the Lord Chamberlain and the most senior official in the late queen’s royal household — will “break” his Wand of Office and place it on the coffin.

The ceremonial breaking of the white staff signifies the end of his service to the queen as sovereign.

As the coffin is lowered into the royal vault, the Dean of Windsor will say a psalm and the commendation before the Garter King of Arms pronounces the many styles and titles of the queen.

The Sovereign’s Piper will play a lament from the doorway between the chapel and the Dean’s Cloister and walk slowly away so the music gradually fades.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury will pronounce the blessing, and God Save The King will be sung.

The king and members of the royal family will leave via the Galilee Porch, but will return for a private burial service in the evening, when the queen will be interred alongside her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George’s.

A committal service is perhaps the most solemn moment of a Church of England funeral service, and it usually takes place at the graveside, in a crematorium chapel or in the church before a burial or cremation.

The majority of those attending St George’s Chapel will not have been in the funeral service at Westminster Abbey.

Many of the household and private estate staff spent years working for and supporting the late monarch, with the committal service a chance to pay their last respects.

Queen Elizabeth II's coffin procession from Buckingham Palace — in pictures

Prayers will be said by the Rector of Sandringham, the Minister of Crathie Kirk and the Chaplain of Windsor Great Park, and by the Dean of Windsor.

The state hearse will approach the castle through Shaw Farm Gate on Windsor’s Albert Road, moving via the Long Walk, Cambridge Gate, Cambridge Drive, George IV Gate, Quadrangle, Engine Court, Norman Arch, Chapel Hill, Parade Ground and Horseshoe Cloister Arch.

Leading the procession and walking ahead of the coffin will be a dismounted detachment of the Household Cavalry Regiment, followed by a mounted division of the Sovereign’s Escort, a Massed Pipes and Drums of Scottish and Irish Regiments, the Bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Household Cavalry, officers of the Household Division, the Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants of Arms and members of the queen’s personal staff.

In the centre of the procession, the state hearse will be flanked by the pall bearers and an escort party consisting of two officers and 24 rank-and-file of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

The Queen’s Company Colour, the Royal Standard of the Regiment of Grenadier Guards, and a Sovereign’s Standard of the Household Cavalry will be positioned in the front and rear of the hearse.

Procession of Queen Elizabeth II's coffin through Edinburgh — in pictures

To the rear of the coffin will be members of the queen’s, the king’s and the Prince of Wales’s households, followed by further mounted and dismounted detachments of the Household Cavalry.

Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery from a position on the East Lawn as the coffin moves in procession from Shaw Farm Gate to the West Steps of St George’s.

Both the Sebastopol Bell — captured in Crimea in 1856 — and the Curfew Tower Bell will be tolled concurrently at the castle.

Queen to be interred alongside Philip in tiny King George VI Memorial Chapel

The queen will be reunited with her beloved Duke of Edinburgh when she is interred alongside her husband in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

The king and the royal family will gather for a “deeply personal” private burial service on Monday evening in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, following the queen’s state funeral and committal service.

The tiny King George VI Memorial Chapel houses the remains of the queen’s father George VI, her mother and sister Princess Margaret.

When Prince Philip died 17 months ago, his coffin was interred in the Royal Vault of St George’s — ready to be moved to the memorial chapel when the queen died.

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“The service and burial will be entirely private, given it is a deeply personal family occasion,” said a senior palace official.

It will take place at night, beginning at 7.30pm, conducted by the Dean of Windsor.

It will be attended by King Charles, the queen consort, the queen’s children, the Prince and Princess of Wales and other members of the royal family.

The central feature of the pale stone memorial chapel annexe, which was added on to the north side of St George’s behind the North Quire Aisle in 1969, is a black stone slab set into the floor.

It is inscribed with “George VI” and “Elizabeth” in gold lettering and accompanied by their years of birth and death.

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Princess Margaret, who died in 2002, was cremated and her ashes were initially placed in the Royal Vault, before being moved to the George VI memorial chapel with her parents’ coffins when the queen's mother died weeks later.

The princess wanted to be cremated because she found the alternative royal burial ground at Frogmore in Windsor Great Park too “gloomy”.

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Lady Glenconner, a lifelong friend of the princess, said in 2002 that the princess preferred the memorial chapel.

“She told me that she found Frogmore very gloomy,” Lady Glenconner said. “I think she’d like to be with the late king, which she will now be. There’s room, I think< for her to be with him now.”

King George VI died in 1952, but was first interred in the Royal Vault and moved to the memorial chapel when it was built 17 years later.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 10:44 PM
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