The Death of Queen Elizabeth II – FAQs for kids

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The death of the Queen will see the start of 10 days of national mourning but for kids this isn’t always hugely relatable. Here are some answers to questions they may ask.

Death and grief can be a very difficult subject to tackle with children, and if there has already been some experience of family grief at home it can be triggering. But as with any death, it’s important to be open when discussing the death of Queen Elizabeth II. While many children may be aware of who she was, some won’t, so the subject should be dealt with sensitively. Child Bereavement UK is a great resource with help on how to talk to children about death.

Dr Jane Gilmour, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and author of How to Have Incredible Conversations With Your Child also shares advice on how to talk to children about everything that is going on.

She says: “Pre-school and young primary school children will still be developing an understanding of death so make sure you use language that is accurate and straightforward. For example the phrase ‘passing on’ can be misunderstood. Consider saying ‘The Queen has died. It means her body has stopped working’. Use examples in nature to illustrate that death is permanent and help young children understand that people who have died don’t come back.

Be aware of the news and conversations happening around children. People might use language, speculate or make perhaps even make jokes (people joke even when they feel sad or unsure inside) that are hard for children to understand. Think about what they have heard and make sure you translate it, so it makes sense to them.”

Ever curious, children will have questions. We’ve put together some answers to some we’ve heard already.

Will we get a day off school?

Ever pragmatic, children will be likely to wonder how this old lady’s death relates to their life. The Department for Education is yet to confirm protocol but it’s expected that schools will close on the day of the Queen’s funeral, and that the day will be treated as a bank holiday. So until then it’s school as usual. This should banish some of the rumours going round that school is cancelled for 10 days of national mourning.

What is mourning?

Mourning is a way of expression grief or sorrow after someone has died. The Queen had an important role in this country and many people like to pay their respects and give thanks for that. In the UK we will have 10 days of national mourning when politicians and the new King Charles III will have important jobs to do, the Queen will lie in state and plans will be made for her funeral.

What is lying in state?

Lying in state is when a coffin is placed in view to allow family, officials and the public to view and pay their respects to the deceased before a funeral. In the UK, this option is given to a king or queen, and sometimes prime ministers. When Prince Philip died last year, he had already said that he did not want to lie in state. However, Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh before transferring to Westminster Hall in London.

Why is Prince Charles now King?

Prince Charles becomes King Charles III as he was the oldest child of Queen Elizabeth. Tradition dictates that as soon as a sovereign dies, the crown passes to the oldest child, or heir. With Prince Charles’ accession to the throne, Prince William becomes next in line.

Winston’s Wish, a children’s bereavement charity, has written a blogpost to help parents and carers talk to children about the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Key points are:

Use clear and age-appropriate language

Be reassuring

Be honest

Allow children to ask questions

Let them know their feelings are normal

For more read here.

There will be many events taking place to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth. Stay tuned.

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