The Queen has broken with a centuries-old royal tradition

By Monique Jessen and Simon Perry
April 19, 2021 04:34 PM
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As she grieves her beloved husband Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth is breaking with tradition with regards to one royal mourning ritual.

Unlike other current family members and royals before her, she will not be using black-edged stationery during the official mourning period. It has been confirmed that she will instead use personalized stationery featuring her crest in black, instead of the customary red, PEOPLE has learned.

The nod of modernity is perhaps in honor of her husband, who famously had a no-fuss attitude in life and also in death. Designing his own funeral, his coffin was placed onto the back of a Land Rover and the ceremony, held at Windsor Castle on Saturday, was without a eulogy.

queen elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Max Mumby/Getty Images
Prince Philip funeral
The funeral of Prince Philip
| Credit: Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images

According to The Times, who first reported the story, both Clarence House, the office of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Kensington Palace, where Prince William and Kate Middleton are officially based, will continue to practice the centuries-old tradition.

Using black-edged stationery after a death was very popular in the 19th century. After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria corresponded on writing paper with a thick black border and matching envelopes, to signal to the recipient her ongoing state of mourning.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images

However, the Queen did send her final handwritten note to her husband in the traditional way. Nestled amongst a bouquet of white flowers on top of his coffin, perched a white card, edged in black, with a note that is believed to have been signed off with her nickname 'Lilibet'. Her husband of 73 years is thought to be the last person who called her by her childhood moniker.

A note from the queen placed on Prince Philip’s coffin at the funeral service of Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth's handwritten letter to Prince Philip
| Credit: NBC

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Charles has also used the traditional form of correspondence in the past, including in letters to former staff members when his grandmother, the Queen Mother, died in 2002.

Black Lined paper
An example of black-edged mourning stationery used by Prince Charles
| Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty

The Queen's new crest design will no doubt be used to respond to the many bereavement cards and letters of condolences the monarch has received since her husband died peacefully at his home on April 9, at age 99.