This past week there was a flurry of chatter about the health of both Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip.
Social media was in overdrive when news broke that all royal family staff across the country had been quickly summoned to report to Buckingham Palace.
These meetings are not unusual but they are infrequent, and the announcement coming in the overnight hours caught people off-guard. This led to many rumors and false reports, mainly of Prince Phillip passing away. This turned out to be false, with the staff being told that the Prince was retiring from public duties.
However, the hullabaloo raised the question of what would happen IF the Queen were to pass away.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She celebrated 65 years on the throne in February 2017 with her Sapphire Jubilee.
She became Queen on February 6, 1952, after the death of King George VI. (Although her coronation was not held until June 2, 1953.)
At 90 years old, it’s fair to say that somewhat soon, the Queen will pass away.
The royal family and England has a plan in place.
The Guardian recently released an article explaining in great detail what will happen when the Queen passes away. The first to know the news would be members of her family. After that, the news would go to her private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt.
Geidt would then alert Britain’s Prime Minister, currently Theresa May. Civil servants will break the news by using the code “London Bridge is down.” Word will then be delivered to the 15 other countries across the world where the queen is also considered the head of state, and to 36 Commonwealths where the queen is a symbolic figurehead.
News of the Queen’s death would then go out to the press association and to news organizations around the world. At the BBC, they will activate the “Rats,” or “radio alert transmission system.” This is “a cold war-era alarm designed to withstand an attack on the nation’s infrastructure.”
After getting word of her passing, news organizations would get to work on scheduling the release of pre-written and pre-recorded obituary material. Knight said that Sky News and ITN have rehearsed this moment for years, using the name “Mrs. Robinson” instead of the Queen. And The Times reportedly has 11 days of coverage already written for the event.
Commercial radio stations would start to get the news through a network of blue “obit lights.” When these lights start flashing at the station, DJs would know that they will soon need to switch to news. In the meantime, they will be instructed to play mood-appropriate music before the announcement is made.
The TV channels BBC 1, 2, and 4 will be interrupted and go silent before any announcement is made. On the radio, Radio 4 and 5 will also be interrupted. Instead, listeners will hear the words, “This is the BBC from London.”
Presenters at the BBC will then go on TV and radio to announce the news. When King George VI died, the presenter began with the words, “It is with the greatest sorrow that we make the following announcement.” The wording will likely be similar for Queen Elizabeth II.
Once news goes public, both houses of Britain’s parliament will be called back in for a special session. For people at work, they will likely leave early. And for anyone on a flight, the pilot will make an announcement to the passengers.
Upon his mother’s death, Prince Charles will become King Charles III. But the official proclamation won’t be until the day after the queen’s death, at 11am that day. Charles will then “carry out the first official duties of his reign, swearing to protect the Church in Scotland, and speaking of the heavy burden that is now his.”
The funeral would take place nine days after the queen’s death. It will take place at The Abbey, with 2,000 guests in attendance. When her coffin reaches The Abbey, “the country will fall silent. The clatter will still. Train stations will cease announcements. Buses will stop and drivers will get out at the side of the road.”
The funeral will start when the archbishop begins speaking. Then pallbearers will place the coffin “on the green gun carriage that was used for the Queen’s father, and his father and his father’s father.” The carriage will then be pulled by 138 Royal Navy sailors.
A hearse will then take the coffin to St. George’s Chapel of Windsor Castle. The broadcasting of the service will end, and she will be laid to rest. The lift to the royal vault will descend and King Charles will drop a handful of red earth from a silver bowl.