What Happens When the Monarchy Dies

What happens after the Queen dies?

On September 8th of this year, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at the Balmoral Castle in the United Kingdom, at the age of 96. Most Americans, along with other countries, do not really know what happens when a monarch dies in office. When you are placed as king or queen in the UK, eventually, you help create a plan of actions or steps that will take place when you die. Queen Elizabeth created her own plan in the early 1960’s and titled it “Operation London Bridge is Down.” Here are the steps they created that are now taking place in the UK. 

Important People in the UK:

Prime Minister – Head of elected government, principal minister of sovereign or state. 

Cabinet Secretary – Senior official who provides services and advice to cabinet ministers. 

Privy Council Office – Supports the Prime Minister and Cabinet, now on honorary basis

Private Secretary – Deals with personal and confidential concerns of public officials. 

Senior Civil Servants – Directors responsible for policy work, not military. 

Foregin, Commonwealth, and Development Office – Promotes interest of British citizens and protects the UK’s security. 

House of Commons – Lower house in parliament of Britain. 

Step 1. The Queen’s private secretary would be the first official to hear the news of her passing and would be the one to convey the news to the Prime Minister. After the code “London bridge is down” is told to the Prime Minister, he/she tells other important officials using a secured telephone line. The cabinet secretary and the Privy Council Office would be informed also by the private secretary. The cabinet secretary along with the Privy Council Office would then inform other ministers and senior civil servants. The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s Global Response Center would then communicate with 14 other countries which were decided by the Queen herself. After those people are alerted, government websites, social media accounts along with the Royal Family’s website will turn black and any content that is non-urgent will be put on hold. 

Step 2. The media then would be informed by announcement to PA Media and the BBC through the Radio Alert Transmission System or known as RATS. The networks would change to blue “orbit lights” which would mean that the stations would play inoffensive music and prepare for the official public announcement. BBC News would play a pre-recorded sequence which would help prepare presenters on duty at the time for making the formal announcement (wearing black clothes, etc.). 

Step 3. A footman would pin a dark-edged notice to the gates of Buckingham Palace, which the same notice would then be displayed on the palace website. The Parliament of the UK, Scotland, Welsh, and Northern Ireland would then all meet as soon as possible so they can address the House of Commons. The New Monarch, in this case King Charles III, would meet with the Prime Minister and give a public speech to the nation at 6 pm, the evening after the Queen’s death. Gun salutes would begin to take place, flags would be placed at half staff, and ceremonies would begin to take place. 

Step 4. After the 10 day mourning period, a state funeral would be held at Westminster Abbey and her body would be buried in a prepared tomb at King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George;s Chapel, Windsor Castle, alongside Prince Philip, and the Duke of Edinburgh. 

Those are the main steps that took place for their government when the queen died. Other steps including the 10 day mourning period (D-Day being the first, King Charles III being placed as the new monarch, and the queens burial), all took place right as well. The plan went through as they had planned when the queen died on September 8th and now King Charles III is the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. 

Sources/Further Reading:

Days of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth | Reuters

Operation London Bridge | Wikipedia

What is Operation London Bridge | Washington Post