The royal family website will change to a black page, the British government page will have a black band across its top and all official UK media will use black and change their profile pictures on the day Queen Elizabeth II dies .
This is what determines the official plan for that day, called Operation London Bridge, the details of which were published this Friday (3) by the journalistic website Politico. Similar predictions are made for leading royals — in the case of Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip, who died in April this year, the operation was called the Fourth Bridge.
“The 95-year-old queen is in good health and there is no suggestion that these plans have been urgently revised,” notes the website. This is, however, the latest version of the plan, including discussions of the Covid pandemic.
The protocol for social media includes a ban on posting non-urgent content and forwarding messages, “unless authorized by the head of Communications of the central government.” But until the news hits the internet, several more carefully choreographed steps must be taken.
According to Politico, the documents stipulate actions to be taken by all arms of the British state, including a vast security operation to manage unprecedented crowds.
Measures are also planned for an eventual chaos caused by an influx of people so large that it would represent the biggest occupation in the history of London.
One scenario depicts hundreds of thousands of people trying to reach the city and pushing the capacity of roads, public transport, policing, housing, healthcare and basic services to the limit.
The first to be notified of the Queen’s death will be the Prime Minister, a position now held by Conservative Boris Johnson, who will receive a call from the Queen’s private secretary. The “cascade of liaisons” will continue with the cabinet secretary (the highest civil servant in Britain) and some of the highest ministers and officials. According to Politico, the document specifies the words with which the news must be given: “We have just been informed of the death of Her Majesty, the Queen.”
Those who are warned will also be informed that “discretion is required”. Senior ministers and civil servants will receive an email from the cabinet secretary, whose draft, according to Politico, reads: “Dear Colleagues, I am writing to inform you of the death of Her Majesty the Queen.”
After this message has been sent, the royal house will issue an “official notice” making the news public and will post a short note confirming the death on their websites and government pages.
The plan calls for flags to be lowered to half-mast in a maximum of ten minutes, a rule that has in the past worried the seat of government, Downing Street, as it does not have a flag officer to carry out the operation. According to the website, the gap would have been resolved.
The Ministry of Defense will arrange for gun salutes to take place at all saluting stations. A national minute of silence will be announced.
Prince Charles becomes king at the time of the current Queen’s death, will meet the same day with the head of government and address the nation.
The operation provides for a ten-day gap between the Queen’s death and her funeral, day by day. The next morning, for example, the Council of Accession convenes to proclaim Charles as king — the plan stipulates that “gentlemen shall wear morning attire or suits with a black or dark tie; no decorations should be used”.
The Queen’s coffin is expected to be in London’s Buckingham Palace on the second day. According to documents seen on the website, if she dies in Sandringham, her eastern England residence, her body will be transported on the royal train to London’s St. Pancras station, where it will be received by the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers . If she dies at Balmoral, Scotland, and it is not possible to transport her body to London on the royal train, a special air operation will be triggered.
On the third day, then King Charles will begin a journey through Scotland across the nations of the United Kingdom. On the fourth day you will be in Northern Ireland — the trip to Wales will be on the seventh day.
A procession carrying the coffin of the Queen from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Palace will take place on the fifth day, after having been rehearsed the day before.
The body will take a ceremonial route through London; in Westminster there will be a church service, and the Queen’s coffin will sit on an elevated box known as a catafalque, in the middle of Westminster Hall, which will be open to the public 23 hours a day. According to Politico, VIPs will receive tickets to visit by appointment.
The funeral will be held on the tenth day at Westminster Abbey and will be a “National Day of Mourning,” which has led to discussions about whether it would be a holiday — in which case employers should give their employees time off.
According to documents reported by Politico, if the funeral falls on the weekend or an existing bank holiday, an extra holiday will not be granted. If the funeral falls on a weekday, the government does not intend to order employers to give employees time off.
On the day of the funeral, two minutes of silence are planned across the country at noon, according to the website. There will be a service at St. George’s Chapel, and the Queen will be buried in King George’s 6th Memorial Chapel in Windsor Castle.