The Queen passed away peacefully in her sleep yesterday….
But what happens now? Well, Buckingham Palace will already be rolling out a detailed protocol called “Operation London Bridge” and the United Kingdom will enter an official 12-day period of national mourning ending with the Queen’s funeral.
The first person that would have been alerted of the Queen’s death was the British Prime Minister. He will be contacted by the Queen’s private secretary, with the words “London Bridge is down”.
The use of a code phrase dates back to the early days of communications when switchboard operators could potentially be able to intercept calls and leak sensitive information. The heads of government of every nation in the Commonwealth will then be notified.
All television and radio stations will simultaneously broadcast a pre-prepared bulletin, the palace’s website will be updated with a statement on a dark background and a footman in mourning clothes will pin a notice to the Buckingham Palace gates. Throughout the country, Union Jack flags will be flown at half-mast.
Parliament will gather to pledge an oath of allegiance to the new Monarch, King Charles III. The words to the National Anthem will be changed to “God Save the King”, and new postage stamps and currency will be created.
One day after the Queen’s death (ie today) the flags will be raised again and Charles will officially be proclaimed king. Prince William will become the Prince of Wales and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess of Wales. King Charles III will immediately go out to tour the country to mourn alongside the people.
Four days after the Queen’s death, her coffin will move to Westminster Hall to lie in state for four full days. During this time the public will be able to visit and pay their respects. It is expected that hundreds of thousands of mourners will pass through over 23 hours of the day.
The funeral is held on the ninth day after her death. The coffin will move from Westminster Hall and travel through crowds of thousands of mourners by gun carriage to Westminster Abbey for the service.
At 9am Big Ben will strike in muffled tones and at 11 am when the coffin reaches the abbey doors, Britain and the world will fall silent.
The Queen is dead. Long live the King.