Queen Elizabeth II’s reign symbolically comes to an end with ceremonial ‘breaking of the wand’: St George’s Chapel sings ‘God Save the King’ as Charles III departs memorial and family head to private service
An ancient tradition known as the ‘breaking of the wand’ took place today to symbolically mark the end of the Queen‘s reign as St George’s Chapel burst into a rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’.
In a moving ceremony, the Lord Chamberlain – who oversees much of the royal household – snapped his Wand of Office, before placing it to the Queen’s coffin before it was lowered into the Royal Vault.
The breaking of the staff, which was traditionally used to discipline noisy courtiers, signifies the end of his service to the Queen.
Andrew David Parker, who served as director general of MI5 from 2013 to 2020, had served from April last year. King Charles III will now appoint his own Lord Chamberlain to run the role under his new duties as monarch.
The ceremonial gesture, which took place at the Queen’s committal, was last performed more than 70 years ago at George VI’s funeral but this was the first time it has ever been televised.
Shortly afterwards, the Queen was laid to rest with her beloved husband Prince Philip after her crown, orb and sceptre were removed from her coffin so she could descend into her grave ‘as a simple Christian soul’.
This was the moment that The Lord Chamberlain, Andrew David Parker, broke his Wand of Office in a symbolic moment when power transferred from the Queen
The Lord Chamberlain breaks his Wand of Office before the Queen’s coffin is lowered as King Charles III watches on intently behind him
The breaking of this staff signifies the end of his service to the Queen. King Charles III will now appoint his own Lord Chamberlain to run the role under his new duties as monarch
The ceremonial gesture, which took place at the Queen’s committal, was last performed more than 70 years ago at George VI’s funeral but this was the first time it has ever been televised
The Lord Chamberlain placed the broken staff on the Queen’s coffin, symbolising the end of his service to her. The coffin was then lowered into the Royal Vault
Baron Parker of Minsmere, who served as director general of MI5 from 2013 to 2020, took over the position in April last year
The Royal Family stood at the end of the short service as the Queen was slowly lowered down into the royal vault while the Dean of Windsor said: ‘Go forth upon thy journey from this world, O Christian soul.’
He also offered the commendation – a prayer in which the deceased is entrusted to God’s mercy.
Moments earlier the Dean had placed her crown and other crown jewels on the altar before the Queen’s staff of office was snapped – signifying the severing of the Queen from her service in death.
The Garter King of Arms then pronounced the styles and titles of the Queen as all power moved to her son, the King.
Charles looked deeply moved as the coffin was lowered – on a day where he appeared tearful on a number of occasions as he said goodbye to his mother, the 12th British monarch to be buried at Windsor.
Her Majesty’s long journey to her final resting place – and to be reunited with the Duke of Edinburgh – began in Balmoral on the day of her death 11 days ago and will end with her private interment at the castle’s St George’s Chapel this evening where the King will scatter earth on his mother’s coffin at 7.30pm at a private family service.
Britain’s longest reigning monarch had been carried into the historic church followed by Charles III, her children and grandchildren including Prince Harry and Prince William.
St George’s was where the Queen had sat alone during the funeral of Prince Philip last year – in one of the most poignant images of the pandemic – and it was where she had loved to worship for so many years when at Windsor.
The Queen is laid to rest for eternity in St George’s Chapel as her coffin is lowered into the royal vault following her state funeral at Westminster Abbey
The Crown Jewels were poignantly removed from the casket to show that the Queen’s reign was at an end
The King looks moved as her mother is finally laid to rest during the service of committal
The overwhelmed monarch then turned away as he said goodbye to his mother and her power and titles moved to him
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex look at the Queen’s coffin as the Royal Family mourns her loss
As the crown jewels were removed, Princess Charlotte pointed and spoke to her mother as Harry and Meghan looked on
The Sussexes and the Wales’ sing as Her Majesty the Queen had her symbols of monarchy removed along with her titles
The coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II rests in George’s Chapel, Windsor
The royal family were united in their loss, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex briefly back with the family they left, but as the Queen’s son the Earl of Wessex said in tribute, in death, as in life, they were sharing their “beloved mama” with others.
Hundreds of thousands lined the Queen’s funeral procession that carried the monarch from lying in state at Westminster Hall to her state funeral and on to Windsor Castle for the committal service.
Her state hearse arrived at the royal fortress strewn with flowers after the sight of the Queen had been cheered and applauded by mourners along the route.
When the Queen was lying in state, a river of people flowed past her coffin, paying their respects over four days.
At the end there were touching moments, with the Queen’s fell pony Emma, held by her stud groom and manager, standing a few feet from the coffin as the procession entered the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Royal Family and European royals watch as the coffin is carried towards the altar
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried into St George’s Chapel along the centre aisle of the nave to the catafalque
Lena Tindall, Zara Tindall, Mia Tindall, the Duchess of Sussex, the Duke of Sussex, Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales, Prince George, and the Prince of Wales, stand for the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre
Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales, Prince George, and the Prince of Wales as they say goodbye to the Queen
Charles, Camilla, Princess Anne and Prince Edward sat together in the service
The choir sings solemnly as the Queen makes her final and saddest journey today
Waiting in the royal residence’s quadrangle were her two corgis Muick and Sandy – gifts from her son the Duke of York – as the funeral procession passed.
The Queen was head of state but also a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and, in a personal touch, the wreath adorning her coffin had a handwritten note from the King.
The message said: “In loving and devoted memory. Charles R”.
Charles had requested the floral tribute, which replaced a wreath of Balmoral flowers, with foliage and blooms cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove.
King Charles takes his seat with his family after following the coffin
Prince Charles arrives at St George’s Chapel with the Queen Consort as he prepares to lay his mother to rest
William, Kate, George and Charlotte stand aside and direct Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to their seats
Queen Elizabeth II body is carried as her family including Charles III and Prince William (left) watch on
The Queen arrives at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where she will be laid to rest