LONDON — No sooner had the long-awaited news broke – Queen Elizabeth II was dead – than Britain activated Operation London Bridge, the carefully choreographed funeral schedule taking the country through the rituals of honor and mourning to begin with her funeral ten days later culminate.

But the plan, with its metronomic precision, masks something far worse: a rupture in the national psyche. The Queen’s death last week at the age of 96 is a truly traumatic event, leaving many in this stoic country fearful and unattached. As they come to terms with the loss of a figure who embodied Britain, they are unsure of their nation’s identity, their economic and social well-being, or even their role in the world.

For some, it almost seems like the London Bridge is down.

Such trauma was not entirely unexpected: Elizabeth reigned for 70 years, making her the only monarch most Britons have ever known. But the fear runs deeper, say scholars and commentators, a reflection not only of the queen’s long shadow but also of the unsettled land she leaves in her wake.

From Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic to the serial scandals that recently ousted Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the end of the second Elizabeth era was a time of endless turmoil for Britain.

Recognition…James Hill for the New York Times

In just two months since Mr Johnson announced his resignation, inflation has skyrocketed, a recession looms and household energy bills have nearly doubled. Nearly lost in the global flood that followed the Queen’s death, after three days in office, new Prime Minister Liz Truss rolled out an emergency plan to limit energy prices to an estimated $100 billion.

“It all feeds a sense of uncertainty and insecurity that has been there because of Brexit and then Covid and now with a new prime minister who is very inexperienced,” said Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. The queen, he said, is the stone, “and then the stone is removed.”

Not just the rock, but the rhythm of everyday British life: her image is printed on pound notes and postage stamps, her royal monogram – ER for Elizabeth Regina – is emblazoned on flags and red post boxes across the country.

At the formal proclamation of her son Charles as King on Saturday, the void left by the Queen was palpable. Her empty throne, initialed ER, loomed before an assembly of the new monarch; his heir, Prince William; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Prime Minister and her six living predecessors.

For older Britons in particular, the loss is “deep and personal and almost familial,” Mr Johnson said, paying tribute to the Queen in Parliament on Friday, four days after she accepted his resignation in one of her final acts.

“Perhaps part of it is that it has always been there, an unchanging human reference point in British life,” he said. “The person who appears most often in our dreams according to all the polls. So unchanging in her North Star charisma that we may have lulled ourselves into thinking that in a way she might be eternal.”

Recognition…Andrew Testa for the New York Times

Beyond the Queen’s permanence, said Mr Johnson and others, was her immense global prestige. It was a living connection to World War II, after which Winston Churchill helped draw the map of the post-war world while sitting around a conference table in Yalta with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Truss have reverted to that role with their staunch support for Ukraine. But Britain these days is less of a major power at the center of global decision-making and more of a mid-size cheering from the sidelines. It is fitting that Churchill, in 1965, was the last Briton to receive a state funeral – before that of the Queen, which was scheduled for September 19 at Westminster Abbey.

“My personal reflection is that there will probably never be an occasion where another British personality is so mourned around the world,” said Professor Garton Ash of Oxford. “It’s a final moment of British greatness in a way.”

For all her displays of power, the queen did not project her influence through political or military power, but through an abiding duty to the country. Her military service and dignified administration contrasted with Britain’s often unruly policies, not to mention the foreign strongmen she sometimes had to entertain.

Some said she was a pioneer in practicing what later became known as “soft power.”

“I cannot lead you into battle,” said the Queen in 1957. “I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else. I can give you my heart and devotion to these ancient islands and to all the peoples of our Brotherhood of Nations.”

Recognition…Andrew Testa for the New York Times

In the parks and squares around Buckingham Palace, where crowds gathered on Saturday, their loss was spoken of on a political and personal level. “She meant reliability and stability,” said Kate Nattrass, 59, a healthcare recruiter from Christchurch, New Zealand, a member of the British Commonwealth.

But the Queen did so at the cost of great personal sacrifice. “In many ways, she was a woman stripped of her ability to be herself,” Ms Nattrass said. “That’s probably why she missed a lot of her own family.”

Callum Taylor, 27, an actor from the north west English city of Preston, traveled to London to leave yellow roses on the palace gates. He said he heard yellow was one of Elizabeth’s favorite colors. Mr Taylor admitted he wasn’t sure of his information but added: “I think we all felt like we knew her.”

While the Queen has long been revered – the swelling crowds at her platinum anniversary celebrations in June were a testament to her enduring popularity – her post-Brexit role has arguably become even more important.

With Britain no longer part of the European Union, the country’s pro-Brexit government resorted to symbols of its imperial past, ordering that the Union Jack be regularly hoisted from public buildings and pushing projects like a new royal yacht (neither King Charles III Ms. Truss seems particularly interested).

Recognition…Pool photo by WPA

Respect for the Queen has masked the cracks that have widened in the UK since Brexit. Scotland and Northern Ireland each now have significant sections of the population favoring separation from the kingdom, and it’s not clear if King Charles will give them a more compelling reason to stay.

In Scotland, where the Queen died at her beloved Balmoral Castle, a 2014 independence referendum was defeated by 55 to 44 percent of the vote. The Scottish National Party, which controls the country’s parliament, is determined to hold another vote.

Many in Ireland still remember the Queen’s landmark visit in 2011, when she charmed the public and spoke candidly about Britain’s strained relationship with its neighbour. “From a historical perspective,” she said, “we can all see things that we wish had been done differently or not at all.”

In Northern Ireland, on the other hand, the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein became the largest party after the May elections. Sinn Fein is also within striking distance of becoming the largest party in the Irish Republic, a milestone that could accelerate their quest for Irish unity.

Dealing with the recalcitrant stay-at-home northern union parties is a headache for the British government. Ms Truss is following Mr Johnson’s lead in threatening to overturn post-Brexit trade deals in Northern Ireland, which are part of his exit deal with the European Union.

Recognition…James Hill for the New York Times

Centrifugal forces are even greater in outlying British dominions such as Jamaica, the Bahamas and St. Lucia, where the predominantly black population is demanding a reckoning with the racist legacy of British colonialism. Barbados will sack the Queen as head of state in 2021, and Jamaica could soon follow.

On a trouble-prone trip through the Caribbean last March, Prince William and his wife Catherine faced demands for slavery reparations and demanded that they confess that Britain’s economy “was built on the backs of our ancestors”.

Vernon Bogdanor, an authority on constitutional monarchy at King’s College London, said Charles was a departure from other royals as he sought to appeal to those on the fringes of society. He cited Charles’ visits to Tottenham, north London, following riots following a police shooting in 2011.

Partly for this reason, Professor Bogdanor said that the new king could surprise those who are skeptical of his ability to replace his mother. Still, he acknowledged a surprisingly deep sense of loss at the Queen’s death.

“I feel more affected than I thought,” he said. “It’s not unexpected when someone dies at 96. The only explanation I can think of is that people instinctively felt how much she cared about the country.”

Recognition…Andrew Testa for the New York Times

Saskia Solomon contributed to the coverage.