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What happens now The Queen has died?

Adam Hamdani

Published 
| Last updated 

What happens now The Queen has died?

Queen Elizabeth II was Britain's longest-serving Monarch and following her death, a series of protocols must be followed up until her funeral.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at age 25 in February 1952. She continued to serve Great Britain up until her passing on Thursday, 8th September, even after the loss of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, in April 2021.

Operation London Bridge, a plan which has been in place since the 1960s, has now been deployed. The plan outlines everything surrounding the Queen's death, from how the news of her passing should be communicated to how quickly Prince Charles will ascend the throne.

What happens when the Queen dies?

Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, Great Britain enters a period of national mourning.

As outlined in more detailed documents seen by POLITICO, which build upon the basic plan set out in Operation London Bridge, the day of the Queen's death is referred to internally as D-Day. The ten days between Her Majesty's death and the funeral will be referred to as "D-Day+1", "D-Day+2", and so on.

The government

The first people to be told about the passing of Queen Elizabeth II are the prime minister, the cabinet secretary and several other senior ministers and government officials. They would have been told within hours of the Queen's passing in a "call cascade." The prime minister and the privy cabinet would have been given the news personally by the Queen's private secretary.

Then, when informing other government officials of the Queen's passing, those in the government who have been told must pass the message on using a script provided to them by Buckingham Palace. It reads: "We have just been informed of the death of Her Majesty The Queen," and ministers would have been told that "discretion is required."

Within ten minutes of the cabinet ministers receiving the news, all flags across Whitehall would have been lowered to half-mast.

The prime minister will be the first person to make a public statement about the Queen's death and no other government official is allowed to comment until the PM has spoken.

The Ministry of Defence will arrange for gun salutes at all saluting stations and a minute's silence will be held.

The PM will then hold an audience with the new monarch, in this case, the new king. King Charles will then deliver a broadcast to the nation at 6pm that evening.

The public

As for the public, they receive an "official notification" from the palace and news organisations will begin to receive the news and an official statement from the palace. 

There are several rules now relating to social media which must be followed in the event of a monarch's death. As POLITICO outlines:

"The royal family's website will change to a black holding page with a short statement confirming the queen's death.

"The U.K. government website - GOV.UK - will display a black banner at the top.

"All government departmental social media pages will also show a black banner and change their profile pictures to their departmental crest.

"Non-urgent content must not be published. Retweets are explicitly banned unless cleared by the central government head of communications."

The Royal Family will announce plans for the Queen's funeral, which is expected to be held ten days after her death.

There are security plans in place to deal with large crowds and gatherings as the Queen's coffin makes its way to the funeral.

Is there a bank holiday when the Queen dies?

The day of the Queen's funeral and the coronation of the new monarch will be national holidays, although they won't be referred to as bank holidays.

However, POLITICO outlines that the PM and the Queen had an agreement that if the funeral falls on a weekend day, an extra day's bank holiday won't be granted. 

It is also at the discretion of employers if they wish to give their employees the day off for the funeral.

Where will the Queen's funeral be held? 

The Queen's funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey and there will be a committal service at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Where will the Queen be buried?

Queen Elizabeth II will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Why is it called Operation London Bridge?

The code name is in place to ensure secrecy. When the last monarch died, George VI, the code word “Hyde Park Corner” was used to prevent switchboard operators from understanding.

The prime minister will have heard civil servants say “London Bridge is down” on secure lines.

The ascension of Charles to the throne is referred to as Operation Spring Tide. The deaths of both Princess Diana and The Queen Mother were signified with the phrase "Tay Bridge is down".

Prince Philip's plans were referred to as Operation Forth Bridge, and Prince Charles has the codename Operation Menai Bridge.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: The Queen, UK News, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William

Adam Hamdani
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