Before Prince Philip died on April 9, the last time the royal family went through an official mourning period was the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, which was followed by a funeral with about 2,000 guests. Though the guest list of Philip’s service was curtailed due to the pandemic, some of the most modern aspects of the funeral—like the custom-built Land Rover that was used as a hearse���were planned well in advance. On Monday the Times reported that Queen Elizabeth is changing another tradition by eschewing black-edged mourning stationery and using writing paper with a black crest instead. The newspaper added that Prince Charles and Prince William are still using black-edged stationery until the official mourning ends.
People pointed out that the queen’s final message to Philip, nestled among the lilies and white roses she selected for his casket, was handwritten on that traditional black-edged paper and signed with her nickname Lilibet. Black-edged mourning paper originally became fashionable in the 19th century, and when Queen Victoria died in 1901, many stores sold commemorative mourning stationery in her honor.
Soon after Philip’s death was announced, the U.K. entered a period of national mourning at the direction of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This meant that Union flags would fly at half-mast across the nation and some political activities would be paused until Philip’s April 17 funeral. Around the same time, Buckingham Palace announced that the royal family would honor a two-week mourning period, along with their households and an array of ceremonial troops, though they would still go on official engagements when appropriate. This might be why the queen held a ceremony to honor the retirement of her Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, only four days after Philip’s death.
According to the Times, the queen will soon shift her focus to planning her Platinum Jubilee next summer and pondering an eventual return to Buckingham Palace once the pandemic is over. Royal sources told the newspaper that there are no plans for Charles to take over more of her duties, and she still receives her traditional red box of government papers everyday.
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