Great Britain and the rest of the world are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth at the age of 96. Plans were drawn up years in advance and updated during her 70-year reign for how the news of her passing and the protocol will be handled, as the nation has not lost a monarch since her father, King George VI, died in 1952. The process, known as Operation London Bridge, was previously leaked in papers obtained by Politico in September 2021.

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the official Twitter account of the royal family wrote on Thursday, September 8. “The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

The process will proceed as follows:

Who Is Informed First?

Upon the monarch’s death, a call will be placed from the Queen’s private secretary to the current prime minister, followed by a “call cascade” to other high ranking government officials and ministers. The public will be informed of the sovereign’s death when the royal household issues an “official notification.”

What Will Happen on Social Media?

According to Operation London Bridge, the website for the royal family will turn black with a short statement confirming Queen Elizabeth’s death. The U.K. government website — GOV.UK — will show a black banner at the top, as will all government departmental social media pages. Content will not be posted to any of the government departments’ social pages unless it is of great urgency, and retweets are banned unless approved by the central government head of communications.

When Will Flags Fly at Half-Mast?

According to the latest plan, the U.K.’s cabinet secretary will send out an email to ministers and senior civil servants in a draft that reads: “Dear colleagues, It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.” Within 10 minutes of the email going out, flags are to be lowered to half mast across Whitehall in central London.

What's Next After Queen Elizabeth Dies?

Who Speaks First About the Queen’s Death?

The prime minister will issue the first statement about the death of the monarch, with all other government officials told to wait until the current leader has spoken. The queen’s son, now King Charles, will address the grieving nation in a televised appearance at 6 p.m. local time about the death of his mother, after having his first private session with the prime minister as the new figurehead of the United Kingdom. Charles will then embark on a tour of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to visit with parliaments and attend memorial services.

Salutes to the Queen

The Defense Ministry will arrange for gun salutes in honor of the queen upon her death, and a national minute’s silence in tribute to her majesty will be announced. A service of remembrance will take place at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral on the evening of the queen’s passing with the prime minister and a handful of senior ministers in attendance.

Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral Plans

The royal family will announce that the funeral for the late monarch will take place 10 days after the date of her death. Prior to that, her coffin will be taken via a ceremonial route through London from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster five days after her passing, where the queen will lie in state for three days. Viewing will be open to the public for 23 hours per day. The day of her majesty’s state funeral will be a “Day of National Mourning,” with the service taking place at Westminster Abbey and two minutes of silence observed at midday throughout Great Britain. After the funeral, the queen will be buried in Windsor Castle’s King George VI Memorial Chapel.

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