How King Charles Is Honoring Queen Elizabeth on the First Anniversary of Her Death
Here's how the royal family is marking the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's death
It’s been a year since Queen Elizabeth II’s death, and a lot of things have changed in the interim. But one thing that’s stayed the same? The public’s fascination with the royal family.
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch passed away on Sept. 8, 2022, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, just a little over a year after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Philip. And while it was notable that she reached the age of 96, it wasn’t simply her long life that interested the public. Like always, they were fascinated by all things royal. Case in point: Elizabeth’s funeral turned into a global TV event watched by millions, as did the day her son Charles became king.
So it isn’t surprising that the non-royals among us were curious how the family would honor her death a year later. The anniversary prompted more than a few questions, including what King Charles III and the rest of the royal family would do to honor Elizabeth. Would there be a public engagement or a church service? Or would they grieve in private? And what about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? Here’s what to know about the first anniversary of the late monarch’s death.
Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more royal news, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.
What are the royal family’s plans for the anniversary?
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
There had been much speculation as to whether Charles would make a public appearance or if there would be an official family gathering on the first anniversary of the queen’s death. And a spokesperson for the royal family confirmed beforehand that there wouldn’t be a big public to-do. Britain’s monarch and his wife, Queen Camilla, are spending most of the day in private at Balmoral Castle, where Elizabeth died and Charles regularly vacations during the summertime. But they were also spotted at a private memorial service at Crathie Church near Balmoral Castle on the anniversary of Elizabeth’s death.
To commemorate the day, the king released a photo of Elizabeth that Cecil Beaton took in 1968, an image that had previously been seen only in an exhibition. Addressing the public on the royal family’s official social media accounts, he honored his late mother with these words: “In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us. I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all.”
As for Charles’s son Prince William and his wife, Kate, Princess of Wales, they’re honoring the late queen in Wales with a private service at St. Davids Cathedral. They’re following that up with a meet-and-greet with community members who met the queen when she visited the area, The Guardian reports.
An announcement from the palace that there won’t be an official family event put an end to speculations as to whether Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, would be invited to a more public affair. That was a smart decision, according to Fitzwilliams. “The last thing the royal family needs on that very significant day is more headlines speculating about dramas within the family,” he says.
For his part, Harry returned to Britain to attend a charity event, but he also paid his respects at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel, where the queen is buried.
The family isn’t guided by strict royal protocol today but instead a fond remembrance of their beloved queen. “There is no formal protocol [dictating] what the royals should or should not do to mark important death anniversaries; it’s up to them,” explains Buckingham Palace insider Richard Fitzwilliams.
Will the British people honor the anniversary?
SOPA Images/Getty Images
The queen’s death prompted an outpouring of grief in the U.K., with a quarter of a million people queuing for up to 24 hours to see her coffin as she lay in state for four days at Westminster Hall in London and millions more traveling to the British capital from all corners of the country (and the world) to watch the funeral procession up close and lay flowers in front of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and other royal estates.
The first anniversary of the queen’s death, on the other hand, is a much quieter affair. “The whole nation will pause, reflect and remember a truly amazing reign, but it won’t be done in a formal way. There are no public events planned,” says Fitzwilliams.
It’s possible, however, that even more people than usual might make their way to Windsor, because that’s where Elizabeth is buried.
How did Elizabeth mark the anniversary of her father’s death?
With its long and storied history, the British monarchy is no stranger to royal deaths. The late queen herself spent time grieving the previous monarch, her father, King George VI, who died when she was just 25 years old. She used to spend each anniversary of his death at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in the East of England. If you’ve been following the British royals’ lives, Sandringham might ring a bell—it’s also the place where the family traditionally spends Christmas.
“Queen Elizabeth’s father died at Sandringham, so it made sense that she wanted to remember him there,” explains Richard Fitzwilliams. “She would remain there until the anniversary was over every year and spend the day reflecting in private, away from the public eye.”
About the expert
- Richard Fitzwilliams is one of Britain’s most prominent royal experts. He has followed the lives of the royals for decades and regularly shares his knowledge in media outlets around the world.
- The Guardian: “King Charles marks anniversary of mother’s death at private church service”
- @TheRoyalFamily on Instagram
- Reuters: “‘We all miss you’: UK royals pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth on anniversary of her death”
- Reuters: “No public event to mark first anniversary of the Queen’s death, palace spokesperson says”
- Washington Post: “Epic queue for Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin had more than 250,000 people”