Bells to Mark the End of a Great Elizabethan Age

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died. She was 96 years old. Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen passed peacefully while in residence at Balmoral Castle this afternoon.

In solemn remembrance, bells will ring out across the United Kingdom and the world. Operation London Bridge, the collected protocols set in motion at the Royal death, details the role bell ringing will play during these days of mourning. It has been formulated in consultation with the Royal Household and Lambeth Palace. 

As the announcement from Buckingham Palace was made in the evening, bells are to ring the following day: Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at noon. Bell ringing will last one hour. Bells should be rung fully muffled with the tenor backstroke open. Half muffling is appropriate if not enough muffles are to be had. Separate arrangements are in place for St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. It is recommended that bell ringers liaise with church and municipal authorities ahead of time to avoid any confusion at what will be a very sad and difficult time.

Bells should remain half or fully muffled until the day the Palace proclaims the new Monarch: King Charles III. At that time, bells should be rung open in celebration of the accession at a practicable time following the announcement. Bells should then revert to being rung half or fully muffled until the day of the state funeral (10 days after the announcement of the death).  

On the day of the funeral, bells should be tolled for the hour immediately prior to the time of the funeral service. This may afford change ringers an opportunity to ring a quarter peal, but general ringing or tolling would be acceptable. Further clarification and direction may be issued by the Royal Household or Lambeth Palace at the appropriate time and will be made available by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

A note on bell muffling

Muffles are leather pads fitted to a bell’s clapper to reduce the volume. They attenuate the bell’s strike note while retaining the hum. By only muffling the clapper on one side (half muffled), you get an ‘echo’ effect as blows are alternately loud and soft. Two muffles can be fitted, one on each side of the clapper, to fully muffle the bell.