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How the Queen's death will affect British Columbians

Condolence books for British Columbians to sign will be available in Victoria and Vancouver.

At news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, government and state media websites across the Commonwealth went black as part of protocol to mark the death of the head of state.

“ALERT: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada has passed away at the age of 96,” proclaimed a white-on-black banner on the B.C. government website.

The Queen died peacefully at her Scottish Balmoral estate Sept. 8 with her family at her side, including son Charles, now the King, according to Buckingham Palace.

Across Canada, flags were lowered to half-mast. The British prime minister’s Twitter page photo paid tribute to Her Majesty with a black and white photo.

In Canada and B.C., where the monarch is the head of state, the Queen’s death means multiple protocols are put into place to mark her passing and for official mourning.

A national day of mourning?

According to the Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada, signed by Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1968, a national day of mourning to be observed as a holiday shall be proclaimed for the day of the Queen’s state funeral in London.

The manual, created 16 years after the Queen’s ascension, notes there is little precedence for the occasion.

The prime minister makes the decision about who represents Canada at the state funeral.

The process starts with announcements from the governor general and lieutenant governors across the country followed by the prime minister and the premiers. All of that has now happened.

It remains to be seen if the courts will close to mark her death.

However, the chief justices of B.C.’s Court of Appeal and Supreme Court as well as the chief judge of the provincial court cancelled a special sitting scheduled for Sept. 8 at the Vancouver Law Courts.

As the day of her death unfolded, government began cancelling scheduled events. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson postponed an announcement in Victoria.

"During this period of mourning, and out of respect for the Queen, we are in a media blackout period until further notice," ministry spokesperson Leah Holoiday said.

In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II's death immediately triggered Operation London Bridge — a step-by-step plan for how the British government responds to her passing.

In B.C., though, provincial and municipal governments have been slow to announce what will happen or to answer questions about things such as court, government and school closures.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Vancouver School Board spokesperson Jiana Ling said. “All flags at schools and district sites will be [lowered] to half-mast in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. In terms of [a] national day of mourning, we will be following the guidelines from the ministry.”

Likewise, City of Vancouver spokesperson Natasha Qereshniku said all city and park board site flags would be lowered to half-mast until the day of the memorial service in Ottawa. Time and date have yet to be determined.

The City of Vancouver will take direction from the B.C. Office of Protocol and Canadian Heritage for all other forms of mourning and honouring, Qereshniku said.

Books of condolence

The lieutenant-governor of B.C., the sovereign’s provincial representative, announced condolence books will be available for public signing in Victoria at Government House at 1401 Rockland Ave., at the Parliament Buildings and at the Great Hall at the Vancouver Law Courts building.

They may also be signed online at Canadian Heritage and the B.C. Office of Protocol.

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