Lord Chamberlain breaks the 'wand of office' as the Queen is laid to rest: What does it mean?

A key figure in the royal household, Andrew Parker, the Lord Chamberlain, breaks the ‘wand of office’ and places it on the coffin of the monarch while it is lowered into the Royal Vault

Lord Chamberlain breaks the 'wand of office' as the Queen is laid to rest: What does it mean?
The Lord Chamberlain, Andrew Parker breaks the wand of office during the Queen's funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (Screenshot/BBC)
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Queen Elizabeth II's committal service is full of customs and royal rituals, however, one last act is now performed by Lord Chamberlain, breaking his wand of office. The tradition marks the end of Andrew David Parker’s duty towards her majesty as sovereign, where he broke the thin, white staff and ceremonial instrument. It was then placed over the Queen's coffin as it was lowered into the Royal Vault at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Earlier, King Charles placed the Queen’s Company Camp Colour of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin, followed by Lord Chamberlain’s breaking of the wand of the office. The ceremony was completed by a spirited Queen’s piper playing lament, which is a salute of the Royal Fendersmith and completed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s pronounced blessing. The National Anthem was then sung, God Save Our Gracious King, while The Voluntary is played, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor.

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What is the wand of office and what does it really mean?

As the Queen is laid to rest, the last and one of the most significant traditions is performed by Lord Chamberlain. A key figure in the royal household, Lord Chamberlain, breaks the ‘wand of office’ and places it on the coffin of the late monarch while it is lowered into the Royal Vault. This gesture signifies the end of his service as sovereign. The last time this ceremony took place back in February 15, 1952 during King George VI's state funeral.

Who is Lord Chamberlain?

The position of Lord Chamberlain is presently held by Andrew David Parker, who is a former MI5 spy chief. He has served for 37 years in the Security Service of the nation and was Director General of MI5 between 2013 and 2020. Also known as Baron Parker of Minsmere GCVO KCB, he succeeded Lord Peel in March, 2021. Lord Chamberlain is primarily responsible for conducting royal weddings, funerals, and arrange state visits. 

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Lord Parker went to Churchill College, Cambridge, pursuing MA in Natural Sciences. It was in 2019 when he was appointed Commander of the Order of the Bath. Later, in December 2020, Lord Parker was honored and made a cross-bench life peer, and he has continued to be a non-executive director of Babcock International since November 2020. Lord Parker also serves as the advisor to Telicent.

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