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  A death in the Royal Family
Updated 03 April 2002, 11.52

PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Dealing with loss

How is a death in the Royal family marked? Society's traditions and ceremonies can help us come to terms with our feelings.

Report on a ceremony or tradition you have experienced.

Learning aims

  • How we mark a death in the Royal Family
  • Society evolves rituals to help us deal with our feelings
Read the story
Prince talks about 'magical grandmother' .

How many ways can students recall the Queen Mother's death being marked?
Ask students how the event was marked in the following six areas of British life. Some suggestions are given to get you started.

[1] What happened at sporting events?

  • Playing the national anthem
  • A minute of silence

    [2] What did they do on TV?

  • Extra news bulletins
  • Special programmes

    [3] What did her family do?

  • Came back from holiday
  • Prince Charles did an interview

    [4] How did ordinary people behave?

  • Signed books of condolence
  • Lined the coffin's route
  • Stood outside Buckingham palace

    [5] What did her friends do?

  • Some appeared on TV to talk about her

    [6] What ceremonial events mark the death?

  • 41 gun salute
  • Body lying-in-state
  • Funeral procession

    Ask students:

    Why did her friends agree to appear on TV programmes?

    Why did people turn up at Buckingham Palace, when there was nothing to see?

    Will all this attention make it easier for the Queen to cope with the loss of her mother?

    Why do we have funerals, and why are they public?

    Main activity

    The role of traditions

    Many of the ceremonial or traditional aspects of life help people to come to terms with their emotions. The nation is currently marking an important death. Ask students to list the ceremonies or traditions associated with these aspects of life.

    Falling in love
    (valentines day / engagement / marriage)

    Having a family
    (baby shower / wetting the baby's head / Christening)

    Getting older
    (birthdays /anniversaries / New Years Eve)

    Leaving school
    (does your school have a tradition?)

    How do traditions help?
    Working individually pick one event from their list that they have attended. Write a report or draw a cartoon strip to show how they felt at the event and what happened. Then answer these two questions:

    [1] Why was there a tradition or ceremony to mark the event?
    (eg birthday shows that you are one year older, you are becoming a grown up)

    [2] How did the event allow people to express their feelings?
    (eg birthday presents show happiness and gratitude)

    Extension activity
    Working in pairs prepare a script for a video message. It will be from students to Prince Charles. It should help him understand how highly his grandmother was thought of. It could include interviews with staff and students.

    The Queen Mother was elderly and had been unwell for some time. Her friends felt she had enjoyed a full life. How do peoples' feelings differ from those they felt when Princess Diana died?

    Did the events marking the Queen Mother's death do a different job to those for Princess Diana?


    Young people and old people have birthday events that may look similar, but how will their feelings differ?

    Teachers' Background

    In Britain grieving was more ritualistic in the past. There were set periods of time when certain customs had to be observed:

    • Widows wore all black clothing for one year and drab colours forever after.

    • Mourners could not attend social gatherings for months.

    • Laughter and enjoyment were discouraged for weeks or months.

    Marking the Queen Mother's death

    • Football grounds around the country fell silent as players in all Premiership and Nationwide games stood in contemplation.

    • At Kempton, the scene of one of the Queen Mother's biggest wins as an owner, the jockeys wore black armbands.

    • The Queen Mother's ceremonial procession will involve 1,700 servicemen and women.

    • The coffin is lying-in-state at Westminster Hall, to allow the public to pay their respects.

    • Trevor Gardner, from Washington, in north east England said he brought his family to Buckingham Palace because "it seemed right that we should".

    For all links and resources click at top right.

  • More InfoBORDER=0
    UKGun salutes for Queen Mother
    UKBritain mourns Queen Mother
    PicturesQueen Mother: Picture gallery
    ChatKids comment on the Queen Mother


    Web Links
    The British Monarchy
    Note: You will leave CBBC. We are not responsible for other websites.



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