What is the Wand of Office that will be broken when the Queen is laid to rest?

·2-min read

Queen Elizabeth’s committal service will involve one final piece of spectacle before her coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault - the Lord Chamberlain will break his Wand of Office and place it on the late queen’s coffin.

The Lord Chamberlain is one of the most significant positions in the royal household, responsible for overseeing all departments, organising events including funerals, royal weddings, and state visits.

The current Lord Chamberlain is the Lord Parker of Minsmere. The former MI5 chief has been in office since April 1, 2021.

But what is the Wand of Office and what is the significance of breaking it?

What is the Wand of Office?

The Wand of Office is a thin, white staff and ceremonial tool that was once used to provide discipline to courtiers.

If they were too noisy, the Lord Chamberlain would warn them to behave with a tap.

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What is the significance of breaking the Wand of Office?

The Wand of Office is ceremonially broken at a monarch’s funeral and it signifies the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s service to the Queen as sovereign.

The ceremonial gesture dates back centuries, last performed more than 70 years ago when the Earl of Clarendon broke his staff over the grave of George VI.

The King will be the one to appoint a new Lord Chamberlain.

According to the order of service published by Buckingham Palace, the broken wand will be placed on the coffin, which is then lowered into the royal vault.

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Police officers take positions ahead of the Queen Elizabeth II funeral (AP)
Police officers take positions ahead of the Queen Elizabeth II funeral (AP)
Guests and officials begin to take their places prior to the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey (AP)
Guests and officials begin to take their places prior to the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey (AP)
The final members of the public pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster (AP)
The final members of the public pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre, lying in state on the catafalque in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster (AP)
People wait along the route that the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II will be pulled on a gun carriage following her funeral service in Westminster Abbey (AP)
People wait along the route that the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II will be pulled on a gun carriage following her funeral service in Westminster Abbey (AP)
People gather prior of the Queen Elizabeth II funeral (AP)
People gather prior of the Queen Elizabeth II funeral (AP)
Members of the public in The Mall, central London ahead of Queen Elizabeth II state funeral (PA)
Members of the public in The Mall, central London ahead of Queen Elizabeth II state funeral (PA)
Mourners ahead of the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II (Getty Images)
Mourners ahead of the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II (Getty Images)
People gather on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
People gather on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
Police officers stand guard on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
Police officers stand guard on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
A person sits on The Mall on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
A person sits on The Mall on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
Police officers are seen on The Mall, on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)
Police officers are seen on The Mall, on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (REUTERS)

As the coffin is lowered, the dean will say a psalm and the commendation before the Garter King of Arms pronounces the many styles and titles of the Queen.

The sovereign’s piper will play a lament from the doorway between the chapel and the Dean’s Cloister and walk slowly away so the music gradually fades.

The committal service will come to an end once the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounces the blessing, and God Save The King is sung.