Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral is taking place today (Monday, September 19) as countless people across the nation pay their respects.
The celebration of Her late Majesty’s life comes 11 days after she died peacefully at Balmoral, on Thursday, September 8.
A number of ceremonies will play out throughout the day, including the ‘breaking of the stick’, conducted by Lord Chamberlain.
Considered a vital tradition seeing Her Majesty’s reign officially end ceremonially - it is the final act before the Queen is buried in the evening.
Here’s everything you need to know about this particular event, including who Lord Chamberlain is and what the ceremony he conducts is about.
What is the Lord Chamberlain?
The Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household is the most senior officer of the household.
They are responsible for supervising the departments providing advice to the Sovereign while also acting as the main channel of communication between the Sovereign and the House of Lords.
The Lord Chamberlain is also responsible for organising ceremonial activities such as weddings, funerals, state visits, investitures, and garden parties.
The role also includes conducting one of the most significant ceremonies at the funerals of monarchs, including Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
This ceremony is officially called the ‘Wand of Office’ – often referred to as the ‘breaking of the stick’.
Who is the current Lord Chamberlain?
The current Lord Chamberlain, as appointed by the Queen in 2021, is Andrew Parker, Baron Parker of Minsmere.
Andrew Parker is a former British intelligence officer who served as Director General of MI5 from 2013 until 2020.
He has been Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household since 1 April 2021. He is also a crossbench member of the House of Lords.
What is the Wand of Office?
The Wand of Office is the final ceremonial act before a monarch’s coffin is lowered down to the Royal Vault.
The Lord Chamberlain breaks the ‘wand’ - a thin, white staff originally used to provide discipline to courtiers - and places it on top of the monarch’s coffin.
Rich with pageantry, the moment happens as the final Hymn finishes at the committal service.
This will take place in Windsor, just moments before the Queen is laid to rest. The last time this happened was on 15 February 1952, for George VI’s funeral.
When is the Queen lowered into the Royal Vault?
The Queen being lowered into the Royal Vault and the Wand of Office will both take place during the committal ceremony in Windsor.
Both will happen at the end of the last Hymn. The Sovereign’s piper will play before a blessing and the signing of God Save the King - something directly requested by the Queen.