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What is Operation London Bridge? Here are the protocols in place now that the Queen is dead

The document explains details of what will happen during the 10 days after the Queen’s death
Queen Elizabeth II is currently under medical supervision at Balmoral (Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II is currently under medical supervision at Balmoral (Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND: Queen Elizabeth is under medical supervision at Balmoral and doctors have expressed their concerns regarding her health. Whenever the British monarch dies, a set of protocols will ease the process of transferring power to Prince Charles. These protocols have been dubbed “Operation LONDON BRIDGE”.

Last year, a set of documents revealed by Politico brought out the secretive plan of the UK government on what will happen in the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 


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In a report by The Independent, the documents explained details of what will happen during the 10 days following the Queen’s death. It also listed all aspects that include where her coffin will go, how the prime minister will publicly address the news, and how Prince Charles will spend his first few days as King.

Queen Elizabeth II presents Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on May 18, 2009 in London. The Victoria Medal of Honour is the highest accolade that the Royal Horticultural Society can bestow.
The document has also listed how Prince Charles will spend his first few days as King (Sang Tan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What is D-Day and the initial process? 

The day that the Queen dies will be called D-Day, while every day afterward will be referred to as D+1 and D+2, and so on. In the first hours after the Queen’s death, a “call cascade” will happen to inform the prime minister, the cabinet secretary, and the most senior ministers and officials. The Queen’s private secretary will be primarily responsible for informing the news to the prime minister. The secretary will also hold the responsibility to inform the Privy Council Office, which coordinates government work on behalf of the monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in a picture released on December 24, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.
The day when the monarch dies will be marked ad D-Day (John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Departmental secretaries will also be given a script in order to inform other government ministers. Later, the cabinet secretary will send an email to senior civil servants. Meanwhile, once the mail is delivered, flags across Whitehall will be lowered to half-mast. The royal family will then declare the death through official notification to the public. The information will also be announced on flights therough the pilots. A national minute’s silence will take place on the same day. Gun salutes will be organized at all saluting stations by the Ministry of Defence. There will be a “spontaneous” remembrance service held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London with the prime minister and a few senior ministers in attendance.

(L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watch the RAF flypast during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 2, 2022 in London, England. Trooping The Colour, also known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, is a military ceremony performed by regiments of the British Army that has taken place since the mid-17th century. It marks the official birthday of the British Sovereign. This year, from June 2 to June 5, 2022, there is the added celebration of the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II  in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952.
Queen Elizabeth's day of death will be marked as D-Day ( Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Reporting Monarch's death on media and response by the government 

BBC has always been the first outlet to break the news on any royal deaths. However, in recent times major news agencies including PA Media (previously Press Association) have been active in giving out the news. Meanwhile, if the Queen’s death is expected the news will spread via the main TV channels first, with all BBC channels being interrupted to show the BBC One feed which will broadcast the story. In the case of the government, the UK parliament will adjourn, as will devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The prime minister will then make a statement. Meanwhile, no other members of the UK government will be granted permission to make any kind of statement before the prime minister's statement.

The prime minister will then have an audience with the new monarch, King Charles. MPs will later offer tributes to the Queen in the House of Commons the day after the Queen’s death. Parliamentary business will be suspended for the next 10 days.

Queen Elizabeth II attends a service for the Order of the British Empire at St Paul's Cathedral on March 7, 2012 in London, England.
According to the plan, Queen Elizabeth will be buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor (Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

When will the funeral take place?

The royal family will be the authority to announce plans for the funeral of the Queen, which will most likely take place 10 days after the Queen’s death. It will take place at Westminster Abbey where there will be a national two-minute silence on the day at midday. Processions will be held both in London and Windsor, with a committal service taking place at St George’s Chapel. The Queen will be buried at the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor.

Clarence House official handout photo of the Prince of Wales and his new bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with their families (L-R back row) Prince Harry, Prince William, Tom and Laura Parker Bowles (L-R front row) Duke of Edinburgh, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla's father Major Bruce Shand, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony, April 9, 2005 in Windsor, England.
 Processions will be held both in London and Windsor (Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images)

What will happen to the Queen's coffin?

The decision on what to do with the Queen's coffin will totally rely on where she dies. If the monarch dies at her residence in Norfolk, Sandringham, documents reveal that her body will be taken by royal train to St Pancras station in London, where it will then be brought to Buckingham Palace. If the Queen takes her last breath at Balmoral in Scotland, her body will be taken down to London by royal train. This is termed as part of an operation known as “Unicorn." If the body can not be taken by train due to some situations, it will be taken by plane. However, in both scenarios, the coffin will be welcomed by the PM and senior ministers.

D-Day +4 and D-Day+5

On D-Day+4, there will be a rehearsal for the procession of the coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. Meanwhile, the actual procession will take place on D-Day+5 and will be followed by a service at Westminster Hall. Further, the Queen will then be at Westminster for the next three days. This whole process is termed Operation Feather.

What are the code names for the royal family members?

Code names for royal deaths were brought in to prevent the news of the death of a royal family member leaking to other sources before the official announcement. Earlier, arrangements for the Queen Mother’s were codenamed "Tay Bridge". Prince Philip’s death was termed “Operation Fourth Bridge”. Meanwhile, the codename for Prince Charles is "Menai Bridge".

There will be a significant change in the titles of the family members after the Queen passes away. In addition to Prince Charles becoming King Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall will become Queen Camilla. There are also possibilities that the Duke of Cambridge will then become the Prince of Wales. Meanwhile, Prince Charles may also be provided with a chance to change his name upon ascending to the throne. This means he could be known as King Arthur, Philip, or George.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales visits Glasgow Central Station to view two alternative fuel, green trains as part of Network Rail's
Prince Charles will ascend the throne on D-Day+1 (Jane Barlow-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

When will Prince Charles ascend the throne?

The day after the Queen’s death, which is known as D-Day+1, the Accession Council will gather at St James’ Palace to proclaim Prince Charles the new sovereign. There will be about hundreds of people in attendance, including the prime minister and senior government ministers. All of them will be wearing mourning dresses or lounge suits with black or dark ties. As per the documents, the cabinet and the PM will hold an audience with King Charles at exactly 3.30 pm. Later, on D-Day+3, he will receive the motion of condolence at Westminster Hall. As a first duty, he will make a visit to the Scottish Parliament and then head to Northern Ireland and receive a second motion of condolence at Hillsborough Castle

Monarch's death on social media

All government departmental social media pages will post a black banner on the occasion of the Queen’s death. The profile pictures shall be set to their departmental crest. On Twitter, retweets will be banned unless they are approved by the central government head of communications. The royal family’s website will also update with a black holding page complete with a short statement confirming the monarch’s death.