Queen Broke Tradition to Play American National Anthem at Palace After 9/11

Britain and the world are in mourning after the longest-reigning monarch in the country's history, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away Thursday.

Her death was confirmed in a statement by the royal family saying she died "peacefully," and the crown had passed to her eldest son, now King Charles III.

In the wake of her death, tributes from around the world, as well as anecdotes from her 70-year reign, are being widely shared.

One poignant moment that has resurfaced is the tribute she herself paid to the victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.

Queen and Coldstream Guards.
In the inset photo, Queen Elizabeth is seen visiting the site of the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack during her visit to New York on July 6, 2010. Also pictured is the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. The monarch broke with centuries-old tradition following the 9/11 attacks, directing the Coldstream Guards to play the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace as a show of solidarity. Google Images / AFP/Alex Segre

The monarch broke with centuries-old tradition, directing the Coldstream Guards to play the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

The band performed the song on September 13 that year, with then-U.S. ambassador to Britain, William Farish, in attendance at the "iconic" daily ceremonial parade, a longtime draw for tourists.

A report from The Guardian, published September 14, 2001, highlighted the importance of the move, saying: "More than 3,000 people including hundreds of Americans gathered outside Buckingham Palace yesterday to hear the Star Spangled Banner performed in an unprecedented alteration to the changing of the guard ceremony."

Footage from the event shows people in the crowd wiping away tears, while others waved stars-and-stripes flags. It was reported that a moment of silence was observed by the crowd.

In the wake of the queen's death, footage of the performance was shared to Reddit's video forum by u/ledgendary, where it has amassed nearly 40,000 upvotes.

It was captioned: "After the events of 9/11, The Queen ordered the Royal Guard to break centuries-old tradition dating back to 1660 and play the US national anthem during the Changing of the Guard. Attempting to provide some comfort to Americans stranded in London."

US ambassador, 9/11 & Buckingham Palace.
L-R The World Trade Center towers under attack on September 11, 2001; then-U.S. ambassador William Farish stands with Prince Andrew during a 9/11 memorial event at Buckingham Palace in London; and the crowds gathered at Buckingham Palace after the terror attacks. Queen Elizabeth II broke tradition to play the American national anthem during the traditional Changing of the Guard event at the palace shortly after the terror attacks. Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library / Anthony Harvey / Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The segment posted online was from an ABC News broadcast, then anchored by Peter Jennings, who appeared noticeably emotional at the end of the song.

The queen also ordered a service of remembrance to be held at St. Paul's Cathedral on September 14, attended by Farish and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as senior royals.

Once again "The Star Spangled Banner" rang out, and it was reported the monarch sang the lyrics, a deviation from the norm as she never sang the British national anthem, then "God Save the Queen."

Queen and crowds at Buckingham Palace.
Left: A St. Paul's Service of Remembrance for victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks was attended by Queen Elizabeth, then-Prince Charles (now King Charles III), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Ambassador William Farish. Right: Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace after the terror attacks of 9/11. Jon Furniss / Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

The royal family website states the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place at Buckingham and Windsor palaces, has been going since 1660.

It said: "Accompanied by a full military band playing a selection of music ranging from traditional marches to songs from musicals and familiar pop songs, the ceremony is both a colourful military tradition and an important reminder of the close relationship between the Armed Forces and their Head: The Queen."

Prior to the sovereign's death, a sign was placed outside Buckingham Palace confirming "No Guard Changing Ceremony Today," thought to be out of respect for the queen after the palace released a statement earlier Thursday voicing concern for the monarch's health.

Last year, marking the 20th anniversary of the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of 2,977 people, the queen once again directed members of the Welsh Guard to play "The Star Spangled Banner" during the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Windsor castle.

There have been other notable deviations from the guards' prescribed musical catalog, with the band playing "Sweet Caroline" ahead of The Lionesses victory in the Euro 2022 final.

"There was some special music at today's Changing the Guard...," a tweet read.