Although Queen Elizabeth II's death is some time away, she is getting up there in years. One of the longest reigning monarchs, her death will signal the end to a significant chapter in the history of the United Kingdom.
What may surprise many is that Queen Elizabeth II's funeral plans have been known for more than 60 years. The plan’s themselves are codenamed "Operation London Bridge," and will take effect once she passes.
But what music is likely to be played before, during and after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II? Here we discuss this and other matters relating to the death of this much-loved monarch.
What Happens When The Queen Dies?
Whether expected or unexpected, things will change quite a bit following the death of the Queen. Buckingham Palace will immediately inform the staff and government officials when it does happen, using the codename "Operation London Bridge."
Interestingly, the codename "Operation London Bridge Is Down" will be used to inform the British prime minister that the Queen has died. This version of the codename will also be used to notify other officials who make up the government of the UK.
The staff who work for the Queen at Buckingham Palace will be informed via the staff hotline. After being informed of the situation, most staff will then be sent home until further notice.
After this, a notification of the Queen's death will be pinned to the gate at Buckingham Palace. At this point, all TV, radio stations, and newspapers will be informed of the Queen's passing.
The country will go into mourning from this point onwards, and flags will be flown at half-mast. Additionally, a national minute of silence will be observed at some point during the day.
Once the general public has been informed of the Queen's death, an official period of mourning will begin. Throughout this time, members of the UK's armed forces will wear black armbands on their military uniforms.
Only after these things have taken place will work begin arranging for Queen Elizabeth II's royal funeral.
Like all royal funerals, the Queen herself will have helped organise the events and music at her funeral.
Oddly enough, rehearsals have been taking place for several years in preparation for the event to ensure that everything involving military personnel goes to plan.
When this unfortunate day does come, the funeral arrangement will unlike anything we have seen in the UK during the last 100 years. However, things may be very different if the Queen passes while we are still dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Let's just hope this doesn't occur, as we all remember the situation during the funeral of Prince Philip. None of us can forget how the Queen had to sit alone because of the coronavirus restrictions put in place by the UK Government.
When Is The Funeral Of Queen Elizabeth Likely To Take Place?
It is thought that the funeral organised as part of the Operation London Bridge plan for Queen Elizabeth II will take place ten days after she has died.
For the first five days following the announcement of the Queen's death, her body will remain at Buckingham Palace. On the fifth day, it will be moved to the Palace of Westminster.
That is where her body will lie in state so that members of the public can attend and pay their respects to her.
The coffin will be placed on a raised box in the middle of Westminster Hall, and doors will be opened to the public for only three days. However, despite the short three day window, they may enter at any time during 23 of the 24 hours on each of these days.
Once the doors are closed to the public, the coffin will remain in Westminster Hall until the funeral takes place at Westminster Abbey on day 10. Following the funeral, two additional days of national mourning will occur.
Will The Queen Have A State Or Ceremonial Funeral?
Queen Elizabeth II will have a state funeral, a ceremony reserved for reigning monarchs.
There has only ever been one exception to this. In 1965, Winston Churchill was awarded a state funeral for his achievements and representation of the British people.
In recent years, the Duke of Edinburgh’s death merited such a funeral when he passed in 2021. Other royals who have been given a ceremonial funeral include the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The funeral day will be recognized as an official day of mourning and classed as a bank holiday. Following the funeral at noon, two minutes of silence will be observed.
What Are The Plans For The Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral?
At 9 am on the morning of the funeral, Big Ben, which is situated at the Houses of Parliament, will strike. Following this, the funeral will take place in Westminster Abbey at 11 am, shortly after the coffin carrying the Queen has arrived.
Once in position, another two minutes of silence will be observed.
As the coffin enters Westminster Abbey, it will be followed by the senior royals. First will be Prince Charles and his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. After them, the rest of the Queen's children and family will follow, including Princess Anne, Prince Edward, and Prince Andrew.
This will be the first time a British Monarch has chosen to have their royal funeral at Westminster Abbey since 1760.
After the service in Westminster Abbey, the coffin will begin the funeral procession through the streets of London. It will head out first onto the Mall, from which the hearse will travel to Hyde Park Corner and then to Windsor Castle.
Upon arrival at Windsor Castle, the Queen will be laid to rest in the royal vault. Once laid to rest, Prince Charles, who will then be the next King of England, will drop some red earth from a silver bowl onto the coffin.
A Little Background Regarding Royal Funerals
The role of funeral organiser for the death of a member of the royal household will typically be given to the Earl Marshall and the Offices of the College of Heralds. This was the case for Prince Philip’s recent funeral
The use of predetermined phrases (aka codenames) will be used to communicate plans revolving around the death and the funeral of members of the royal family.
During the latter part of the 20th Century and the early part of the 21st Century, the phrases used have for the most part been taken from the names of well-known bridges in the UK.
When Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, died in 2002, the codename used for her death and funeral plans was "Operation Tay Bridge".
What Hymns Are Likely To Be Sung At Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral?
It isn't known exactly what hymns will be included in the funeral as part of the order of service. However, it is likely to include the national anthem, as well as "Jerusalem" by William Blake, which was put to music by Hubert Parry during the 20th Century.
Also, another hymn likely to feature during the memorial service is "I Vow To Thee, My Country". This is a poem written by Sir Cecil Spring Rice that was then put to music composed by Gustav Holst.
Other hymns that may be considered for the funeral include the likes of "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise," which was played at her mother's funeral. Another possible choice is the "Awakening" pas de deux from "The Sleeping Beauty", composed by Tchaikovsky.
She may also choose to include hymns that have been written by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Mozart.
What Music Is Likely to be Played at the Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II?
Again, it isn't known what pieces of music the Queen may have chosen for her funeral service. However, to help celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016, a list of her favourite music was released.
The pieces of music that she listed included:
- “Oklahoma” – This is from the musical Oklahoma and was sung in the movie adaptation by Howard Keel. It was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It debuted in 1943 on Broadway.
- “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” – Originally from the musical Annie Get Your Gun, it was most famously sung by Dolores Gray and Bill Johnson. The piece was written by Irving Berlin.
- “Sing” – Written by Gary Barlow, it was performed by him with the Commonwealth Band and the Military Wives choir. It was performed on 4 June 2012 during Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee concert.
- “Cheek To Cheek” – Sung by Fred Astaire in 1935, it featured in the film Top Hat. It was written by Irving Berlin, who is considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
- “The White Cliffs Of Dover” – A moving song, it was used as an anthem throughout the Second World War, having famously been sung by Vera Lynn. The tune was written by Walter Kent who based it on lyrics by Nat Burton. It is one of the best-known recordings by Vera Lynn.
- “Leaning On A Lamp Post” – Sung by George Formby in the film Feather Your Nest, it was written by Noel Gay.
- “Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven” – Written by Henry Francis Lyle, this is a traditional hymn drawn from the text of Psalm 103. It was first published in 1834, but it wasn't until 1868 that it was set to music by John Goss.
- “The Lord Is My Shepherd” – This very traditional hymn is a favourite of many and is believed to be based on the text of Psalm 23. The earliest record of this hymn dates back to 1650. This hymn is commonly sung to the tune of "Crimond," which is attributed to Jessie Seymour Irvine.
- "Medley Of Music From Lester Lanin" – This popular jazz and pop music bandleader's career began in the 1920s. However, during the 1950's, the music he wrote became ever more popular due to the introduction of the LP.
- “Milanollo” – This piece is often referred to as the “Regimental Quick March for the Coldstream Guards,” the oldest of the British Army regiments. This piece was composed by Johann Valentin Hamm in February 1846. He gave it the name Milanollo, dedicating it to a very talented violinist from Italy named Teresa Milanollo.
Unlike the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be a much grander affair. It will be even more extravagant than the ceremonial funerals for the Queen Mother and the Princess of Wales.
Hopefully, when the time does come, the pandemic of the last two years will have passed, and the whole country will be able to give the Queen a proper goodbye.
Just as with other state and ceremonial funerals that have taken place in the UK, there will be music included as part of the order of the funeral service. But it will not be until closer to the funeral date that we will fully know just what music the Queen has chosen to be played at hers.
For this reason, what music is likely to be played at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II remains an unanswered question for the time being.
As you will have noticed, over the last 20 years or so, the kind of music that members of the Royal family have chosen to be played at theirs has changed both in tone and style. For example, during the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, not only were more traditional hymns sung, but Elton John carried out an exceptional performance of his much-loved song "Candle In The Wind."
Therefore, we shouldn't be too surprised if the Queen decides to branch out beyond the more traditional hymns. This is a woman who is very much her own person and will want it to be a celebration of the beautiful life she has led.