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  • Writer's pictureDavid Brougham

Queen Elizabeth II’s death certificate

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

The death certificate is very final and very sad. A life on one single sheet of officialdom.


On reading the Queens death certificate I was immediately drawn to the detail with my interest in Family History. I had to stop myself and remember that I was looking at a Scottish death certificate and not English. The reason – it records not just the detail of the deceased, their spouse, and the informant, but also the parents.


English death certificates don’t include parents. Birth certificates do, although it is not compulsory for both parents to be listed. Marriage certificates have contained just the fathers name for a long time. Recent changes in the law mean that the marriage certificate will now start to contain the mother’s name. A change long overdue.


The other change needed however is to bring English death certificates in line with Scotland and include details of the parents of the deceased where known. It will help to put the individual’s life in context, a place in history and somehow represent a continuity of the bloodline – we all descend from somewhere, even if some of us unfortunately don’t know who our parents are.


There have been several changes in the death certificate over the years. Since 1st July 1837, death certificates have been recorded in the same way as birth certificates in the GRO index. Until 1953 deaths had to be registered within 8 days, now it is 5 days. This is a tall order at times taken from recent experience with my father’s death. The hospital seemed to take a long time generating the paperwork, though the fact it is all now sent by electronic transfer to the Registrars Office does make it easier. A doctor’s medical certificate has been mandatory since 1874, and since 1902, two doctors’ signatures are required for a cremation. Since 1st April 1969 the deceased date and place of birth have been recorded along with the maiden name of married women – all this provides good information for the genealogist. Having the parent’s name on the death certificate would be a significant plus.


Along with a little smile at the Queen's occupation, Her Majesty The Queen, very unique to say the least. I was also struck by the Queen’s surname. I remember at school getting involved in an argument about Her Majesty’s surname. To settle the dispute, I wrote to The Queen to ask her for a definitive answer on the subject. Well, why not? The reply came back from one of the ladies in waiting, and I really wish I still had the letter, but it said as Queen of England Her Majesty does not have a surname. Yet here we are in black and green, Windsor. My point is finally made after all these years!

Copy of the death certificate of HM Queen Elizabeth 2nd

(C) Crown copyright. Data supplied by National Records of Scotland .

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