You have probably encountered the viral hoax news about the death of Elizabeth II on social media. It was obviously false, but what happens when the Queen dies? Rumour has it that all workers will have a day off, but is there a real plan of action for such an occasion?
Such a plan really exists, and after the spread of fake news about the Queen's passing away, it started to attract a lot of attention. It is called 'Operation London Bridge.' It will be happen in the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
What happens when the Queen dies? 'Operation London Bridge' in detail
The plan of action was developed back in the 1960s. Since that time, it has survived many updates. The operation involves particular governmental departments, the Church of England, the Armed Forces, Metropolitan Police Service, Royal Parks of London, and mass media.
The code phrase to set the plan in motion will be 'London Bridge is down.'
When the sad day comes, the following actions will be taken:
- In the sad case if the death of Her Majesty is expected as a result of a prolonged illness, a news sheet will be keeping people informed on her condition. For instance, when King George V passed away, the announcement from the Palace said that His Majesty's life was moving ultimately towards its close.
- The Queen's secretary will pass the news directly to Britain's Prime Minister. Currently, the Private Secretary is Right Honourable Edward Young. Until the end of his service, he is responsible for providing the Prime Minister with the sad news. The secretary will probably need to pronounce the code phrase, but there are no official confirmations.
- When the Queen dies, the announcement will go out as a newsflash to the Press Association and the rest of the world’s media simultaneously. Radio stations will also receive and transmit an alert via a network of special blue 'obit' lights. A special footman traditionally clothed in mourning clothes will appear from a door at Buckingham Palace in order to attach a notice with black edges to the gates. A less spectacular but also an effective way of letting the nation know about the sad event is via the royal website, which will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background.
- All the newsreaders will wear special black suits and black ties on this day.
- News agencies, as you may have guessed already, keep their obituaries prepared just in case. When the moment comes, everything they need to do is add crucial details. ITV and Sky News would only need to replace the fake name 'Mrs. Robinson' used in their rehearsals of the inevitable event with the real one and press publish.
- The biggest TV channels are expected to cancel their programs on this day. Instead of all the movies and shows, they will air tributes and videos dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II's life. Of course, it is quite possible that they already have rehearsed plans of what should be aired on this day.
- After the day Queen Elizabeth II's death is announced at the official level, the country will have more than a week for mourning. Her Majesty's body must remain in Buckingham Palace through this time until the royal funeral will be prepared and arranged. All the preparations finished, the coffin with the royal body, in accordance with traditions, will be carried to Westminster Hall so that everybody is able to pay their respects. There are particular protocols prepared in case Her Majesty dies away from Buckingham Palace.
- Prince Charles is the next to step in and overtake the throne wearing the title of the King of England. His wife Camilla, who currently wears the title of the Duchess of Cornwall, will become his Queen. The newly appointed King will proclaim a speech to the nation. After all the necessary preparations, the British Parliament must swear their allegiance to the newly appointed monarch.
- The nation will have two days off: on the day of the funeral as well as the day Charles wears his crown. While the rumour has it that everybody will be able to leave their jobs and go home on the day the royal death is announced, there is no official information on this subject.
Who is next in line to sit on the throne?
After Queen Elizabeth II dies, the eldest son of Her Majesty and Prince Phillip, Charles will inherit the throne. As the Queen is already in her nineties, the preparations for the coronation must have been underway for some time. However, Prince Charles may wear the King's crown in 2021 even if his royal mother is still alive. She has announced her desire to retire after she turns 95. She will be a year younger than her husband, who retired when he was 96.
Prince William is expected to follow Prince Charles in the line. Prince William's son George has already knocked Prince Harry down the line. The boy is only six now, but he is already the third candidate to take over the British throne. Princess Charlotte follows her brother; she is the fourth due to the recent changes in royal protocols. Until 2011, younger male siblings took their places in the line, skipping their sisters. At the same time, when George has his own children, Charlotte's chances of becoming the Queen will become slimmer.
Prince Louis, the youngest child of Prince William so far, is very unlikely to have the throne even though he follows his sister in the line. George's children will move him further and further away from the throne.
What will the reaction of the Commonwealth be?
When the news comes from the Queen's Private Secretary, it will be transmitted to the Global Response Centre belonging to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It will get in touch with the heads of the fifteen countries that used to recognize Her Majesty as their head of state once, and also with the leaders of those countries that are known as the Commonwealth of Nations at present.
- In Australia, they will have their flags flown half-mast immediately after they receive the official information. They will remain in this state until the day the new monarch is appointed. The Australian Defence Force will perform a gun salute to honour the memory of the passed monarch.
- In Canada, they have been preparing for the sad occasion since 2002. Following their protocol, many governmental officials will receive special black ties and armbands. All the portraits of Her Majesty and flagpoles will be draped with black fabric. Television stations will cancel all their programs, replacing them with the 'Broadcast of National Importance.' CBC radio and television stations will turn on a 24-hour news plan.
- In New Zealand, they will also fly their flags at half-mast. There will be twenty-one gun salutes and a state memorial service. Regular television and radio programs will be interrupted to let the public know about the death of the sovereign.
This small overview shows what happens when the Queen dies. Both the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations will conduct a range of events to celebrate the new monarch. The national anthem will be changed to 'God Save the King'. Coins, banknotes, and postal stamps with the face of His Majesty will be issued. The nation will have their new King.