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British Royals

The Queen in half mourning for first public appearance since Prince Philip’s death

The Queen in the House of Lords

The Queen has appeared in public for the first time since the funeral of her husband as she was joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for the State Opening of Parliament.

Her Majesty wore grey for the event, one of the traditional colours of half mourning. Her pale dove coat was trimmed with gold and she wore a grey and yellow floral dress underneath. Her grey hat featured feathers in the same colour and gold trim. She wore a pair of aquamarine clip brooches, given to her by her parents in 1944 as she turned eighteen.

There was a further reminder of the recent loss of Prince Philip as parliamentarians gathered for the State Opening. For the first time in her reign, the Queen’s throne sat along at the centre of the House of Lords. The consort’s throne, always at its side, had been removed following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles and Camilla sat on Chairs of State, below and to the right of the throne.

The State Opening of Parliament was much more low key than usual, owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The Queen, the Prince and the Duchess all arrived by car, rather than carriage, and the Imperial State Crown was placed on a table within the chamber of the House of Lords, rather than being worn by the Monarch.

In another break from tradition brought about by the pandemic, the Lord Chancellor didn’t hand the Queen’s Speech to her in person. Instead, it was placed on a table in front of the throne ahead of the ceremony. And rather than MPs jostling into the Lords to hear the speech, a smaller group walked in socially distanced single file from the Commons to take their places.

The State Opening of Parliament formally marks the beginning of a new session of Parliament. This year’s opening, on May 11th, is the first time the Queen has made a public appearance since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on April 9th 2021 and his funeral on April 17th 2021. She has been seen in several videos calls since then.

Her choice of half mourning for the event follows tradition and a pattern already set since Prince Philip’s death. The social media channels of the Royal Family now feature images of the Queen in purple, another colour worn as mourning continues.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.