London Bridge Down: What Happens When Queen Elisabeth II Dies?

© AFP 2023 / DANIEL LEALRed London buses pass by, as images of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II are displayed on the big digital screens at Piccadilly Circus in central London on February 6, 2022, to mark the start of Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee Year
Red London buses pass by, as images of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II are displayed on the big digital screens at Piccadilly Circus in central London on February 6, 2022, to mark the start of Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee Year - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.02.2022
Website "Hollywood Unlocked" claimed that the longest reigning British monarch died early on 23 February with the chief of staff in the UK House of Lords rejecting the allegation as "false".
Buckingham Palace announced on 20 February that Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 and, even though she was reported as experiencing only mild symptoms, unsubstantiated speculation about her death were quick to emerge after she cancelled her virtual engagements for the week.
But fear not - the death of a British monarch and how the government and nation responds has been meticulously planned, (in the case of Queen Elizabeth II under the codename "Operation London Bridge") for years and is based on centuries of precedent. And considering that the monarch, as head of state, is also commander of the armed forces, the whole series of events will be enacted with, literally, military precision.

Top Officials and Governments' Leaders First in Line for News

Regardless of the circumstances of the Queen's death, her private secretary, at present Sir Edward Young, will be the first to break the news, specifically by passing a codeword to the UK prime minister at the time - "London Bridge is down". The PM will then activate "Operation London Bridge", which starts with notifying UK cabinet ministers, the cabinet secretary, the Privy Council Office and the heads of 14 governments of the Commonwealth realm, of which Elizabeth is queen. The heads of the Commonwealth of Nations governments will also be among the first to be notified.

How Will the Public Find Out?

One of the first indications that something terrible has happened in the kingdom which the general public are able to spot, is that government and royal family websites - as well as social media accounts - switch their colour scheme to black. The government buildings must also lower flags to half-mast within 10 minutes of the plan being activated.
However, these measures would apply in the event of any member of the royal family dying. The only way to know that it is the Queen who has died is to wait for news outlets to report. Radios and TV broadcasters will get the heads-up via special Radio Alert Transmission System (RATS) and will immediately start changing their programming - for example, switching to specific playlists or playing "inoffensive music", and wrapping up shows on TV.
BBC News, Britain's state broadcaster, will change its red colour scheme for black and presenters are obliged to keep appropriate mourning clothes - dark suit and black tie for men, dark jacket and skirt for women - on site at all times so that they can immediately change their clothes to break the news of the monarch's death.
Around the same time a black-edged notice of the Queen's death will be pinned on boards at the gates of Buckingham Palace. The announcement will be followed by extensive coverage of Queen Elizabeth's life and achievements that will be spread across 10 days before her funeral. It was also reported that the BBC will refrain from running comedy shows during this period.

Ceremonies Ahead of Funeral

The actual funeral will take place 10 days after the announcement of the Queen's death, but a lot of ceremonies will take place before that. The parliaments of the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will convene on the day of her death or as soon as humanly possible.
On the day after the Queen's death the ceremonial body, the Accession Council, will announce a new UK monarch, most likely King Charles. He will then deliver his first speech and the government and politicians will swear their allegiance. And on the third day after Queen Elizabeth's death, the new monarch will depart on a tour of the capitals of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, before returning to London.

Official and Unofficial Bank Holidays

As well as all ceremonies, the day of the Queen's death will be proclaimed a bank holiday and two minutes of silence will be held to commemorate her passing. In accordance with an agreement between Elizabeth II and the prime minister, the day of her funeral will not be an official holiday, but a "Day of National Mourning". However, as with the day of the Queen's death, it is expected that the Stock Exchange and businesses will probably not operate on that date, as a mark of respect for the monarch.

Preparations for the Royal Funeral

The contingencies for the Queen's funeral partly depend on where she dies. But regardless of the place and the means of transport, her body will be moved to the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace first and after five days by military procession to Westminster Hall where it will lie in state for three days after a service.
The new monarch, family members and other dignitaries will then pay their respects to the late Queen. After that, the doors will be open for the Queen's subjects to pay their last respects.
The funeral itself will take place at Westminster Abbey on the 10th day with 2,000 selected guests attending (unless the procedure, devised before 2020, is changed in the light of COVID fears). After the ceremony, the Queen's body will be taken to the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle and buried alongside Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died on 9 April 2021, two months shy of his 100th birthday.
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