HMS Queen Elizabeth fires 96 gun salute to mark the Queen's death

From one Elizabeth to another: HMS Queen Elizabeth fires 96 gun salute to mark the Queen’s death – as guns fire at Cardiff, Edinburgh and Hillsborough castles as well as Gibraltar

  • Britain’s £3billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth fired a 96-gun salute to mark the Queen’s death
  • MoD photos from a Merlin Mk2 helicopter show 820 Naval Air Squadron firing the gun salute
  • Salutes were fired on five others ships, as well as locations including Cardiff, Edinburgh and Gibraltar 
  • Follow MailOnline’s live coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II here 
  • Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing

Britain’s £3billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth fired a 96-gun salute to mark the Queen’s death on Friday after guns were fired at Cardiff, Edinburgh and Hillsborough castles as well as Gibraltar upon news of the passing of the elderly monarch. 

Photos provided by the Ministry of Defence taken from a Merlin Mk2 helicopter show 820 Naval Air Squadron firing the gun salute in tribute to the Queen, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as well as Head of State and Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Salutes were fired on five others ships, as well as locations including Cardiff Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Hillsborough Castle, York, Portsmouth and Gibraltar. 

Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1965. 

Ministry of Defence handout aerial view of the 96 gun salute taken from a Merlin Mk2 helicopter of 820 Naval Air Squadron embarked on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

Photos provided by the Ministry of Defence taken from a Merlin Mk2 helicopter show 820 Naval Air Squadron firing the gun salute in tribute to the Queen, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as well as Head of State and Supreme Head of the Church of England

Britain’s £3billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth fired a 96-gun salute to mark the Queen’s death on Friday

Camilla, Charles and Queen Elizabeth II on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping The Colour on June 2, 2022

On special days, Royal salutes are fired from various locations in London and across the UK. In London, salutes are fired from the Tower of London, and also either Hyde Park or Green Park, depending upon the occasion. 

The basic salute is 21 rounds, fired at ten second intervals, but in Hyde Park an extra 20 are fired because it is a Royal Park.

Teams of horses gallop across the park, pulling six thirteen-pounder guns at speed over the grass. The guns are quickly detached and, upon command, fire booming blanks which reverberate through the ground, sending a puff of white smoke into the air. 

In the parks, The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery fires the salute, the first round usually being fired at noon. The salute at the Tower of London is fired from four twenty-five pounder guns located on Tower Wharf facing the River Thames, by the Honourable Artillery Company at 1pm.

When are Gun Salutes fired?

Gun salutes are fired to mark a variety of occasions, including:

  • Accession Day – 6 February
  • The Queen’s birthday – 21 April
  • Coronation Day – 2 June
  • The Queen’s official birthday – a Saturday in June
  • The Prince of Wales’s birthday – 14 November
  • The State Opening of Parliament – usually November or December
  • Prorogation of Parliament
  • Royal births, for example for Prince George and Princess Charlotte
  • Meeting of a visiting Head of State and the Sovereign in London, Windsor or Edinburgh

Gun salutes are customarily fired, both on land and at sea, as a sign of respect or welcome. Nowadays, gun salutes mark special occasions on certain days of the year, many of them with royal associations.

Gun salutes occur on royal anniversaries including Accession Day, the monarch’s birthday, Coronation Day, the monarch’s official birthday, the State Opening of Parliament, royal births and when a visiting head of state meets the monarch in London, Windsor or Edinburgh.

The MoD said the tradition of gun salutes routinely being fired throughout the country to mark significant national events dated back centuries, and there were historical records of salutes taking place as early as the 14th century when guns and ammunition began to be adopted widely.

At 1pm on Friday, the Death Gun Salute was fired at 1pm on Friday in London, as well as at other locations around the UK and at saluting stations at home and abroad. One round was fired every 10 seconds, with 96 rounds representing one round for every year of the Queen’s life.

In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired the Death Gun Salute in Hyde Park, while at the same time the Death Gun Salute was fired at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC).

Some 71 horses made their way into Hyde Park, of which 36 pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is a British Army mounted ceremonial unit that fires royal salutes on royal anniversaries and state occasions, such as state visits and royal birthdays.

The HAC dates its origins back to 1537, making it the oldest regiment in the British Army. It took over the role of firing gun salutes from the Tower of London in 1924.

Major Matt Aldridge, Battery Commander, Honourable Artillery Company, said: ‘It has been an honour and privilege for the Honourable Artillery Company to have played our part in commemorating the life of Her Majesty The Queen, our Captain-General. In this period of national mourning, our thoughts are with the royal family.’

It comes as the Chief of the Defence Staff said that the Queen ‘understood better than most the burdens and the glory of a life in uniform’.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said service personnel ‘must perform their final duty to a much-loved sovereign’ in the coming days, adding: ‘We do so with admiration and gratitude.’

In a statement posted on the Ministry of Defence’s Twitter page on Thursday evening, he said: ‘On behalf of our armed forces, I would like to express our condolences to His Majesty the King, and to the royal family.

‘The relationship between the Queen and the armed forces was deeply personal. Through her own service in the Second World War, and as the wife, mother, and grandmother of service personnel, the Queen understood better than most the burdens and the glory of life in uniform.

The Death Gun Salute is fired at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company 

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery prepare to fire a 96-gun salute at 1pm at Hyde Park

The 105th Regiment Royal Artillery, The Scottish and Ulster Gunners fire a 96-gun salute at 1pm in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II at Edinburgh Castle 

Britian’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace attends the Death Gun Salute fired at the Tower of London alongside Admiral Sir Antony David Radakin, a senior Royal Navy officer

The Death Gun Salute is fired at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company 

‘In the coming days, our sailors, soldiers and aviators must perform their final duty to a much-loved sovereign. We do so with admiration and gratitude. For those of us who have the privilege to now wear the King’s uniform, there remains no greater honour than to serve our Crown and country.’

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston also paid tribute to the Queen, saying she was a ‘pillar of strength to all who have been privileged to serve her’.

In a statement posted on his official Twitter page, he said: ‘It is with overwhelming sadness that the Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force mourn the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

‘During her long and glorious reign, she has been the embodiment of a life dedicated to the service of the nation and the Commonwealth, and for that has been admired by millions around the world.

‘Her Majesty, as head of the Armed Forces, has been a constant source of inspiration and a pillar of strength to all who have been privileged to serve her. Those who had the honour of meeting Her Majesty will never forget their interaction and the deep sense of pride they felt in that moment.

‘On behalf of everyone in the Royal Air Force, serving, retired, and their families, I offer our deepest condolences to His Majesty The King and The Royal Family.’

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