What does the Queen’s death mean for politics?

·3-min read

The death of the Queen signals a major change in the workings of public life.

Buckingham Palace said Elizabeth II, the nation’s longest-reigning monarch who served as head of state for more than 70 years, died “peacefully” on Thursday afternoon at the age of 96.

Her eldest son has become King Charles III.

After speaking to the King, Prime Minister Liz Truss chaired a meeting at 9pm for Secretaries of State with a role to play in the co-ordination of arrangements.

Politics as normal is put on hold as the nation enters a 10-day period of mourning, which lasts until the Queen’s funeral.

The quiet will be reflected in the flying of flags at half mast on UK Government buildings.

On Friday, the House of Commons’ sitting will not start at 9.30am as planned.

Instead, both Houses of Parliament are due to gather at noon to allow MPs and peers to pay tribute to the Queen in a session due to last until 10pm.

Ms Truss will lead the tributes.

There will also be a rare Saturday sitting, where senior MPs will take the oath of allegiance to the King from 2pm, with condolences continuing again until 10pm.

The session will end with a “formal humble address” to the King at the end, “expressing the deep sympathy of the House” on the Queen’s death, the House of Commons’ said in a statement.

All MPs will have the option to take the oath to the King when the House returns, but are not obliged to.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will determine the timetable for the following days, but it is expected to be significantly reduced until after the state funeral as Parliament adjourns.

This means new laws cannot be passed until Parliament returns, though it could be recalled for the most pressing matters.

Erskine May, which outlines parliamentary procedure, states: “On the demise of the Crown, Parliament, if sitting, is immediately to proceed to act; and if adjourned or prorogued is immediately to meet and sit.

“In such circumstances, Parliament has met on Sunday.”

When the Queen’s beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh died in April 2021, the Commons was recalled from its Easter recess one day early so that MPs could pay tribute from the chamber.

Queen Elizabeth II death
Mourners gather outside Buckingham Palace in central London following the announcement of the Queen’s death (James Manning/PA)

Most government announcements, ministerial visits, press releases and conferences will pause during the period of mourning.

One exception is the Government’s energy support package, which was being set out by Ms Truss earlier on Thursday when it emerged the Queen was placed under medical supervision at Balmoral.

Due to the scale of the cost-of-living crisis, households struggling with soaring energy bills can still expect to get information on government support as work on the policy continues, with emergency legislation possible.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is due to give specifics of how the plan will be funded during his emergency fiscal announcement later this month.

The timing will likely be affected by the mourning period.

The Commons is due to go into conference recess on September 22, but the Government could decide to change the timetable to make up the time lost and ensure they can pass the necessary energy legislation.

It is up to party leaders whether party conferences should go ahead.

The Liberal Democrats, due to gather from September 17, are the only ones whose conference falls within the mourning period.

The Government wants schools to stay open and will not tell cultural and sporting events to stop, with the decision down to individual cultural organisations and sporting associations.