“London Bridge is down”: the detailed plan of the protocol for the funeral of Elizabeth II

It is an old protocol developed for many years, which details in detail all the steps following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This secret plan, whose development dates back to the 1960s, was leaked in September. The Polito site had made it public, The Guardian had also widely revealed the details in 2017. The plan responds to the code name “London Bridge”, it has been prepared for decades. “London Bridge is down”, the London Bridge has collapsed, it is by this coded formula that Prime Minister Liz Truss will be notified of the death of the sovereign by the private secretary, via a secure line. In the process, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for announcing the sad news to the Commonwealth countries, in particular to the 15 States where she was head of state, such as Canada or Australia.

The public is the next to be warned. A valet must hang a message against a black background on the gates of Buckingham Palace, London. Similar messages, sober, on an evening background, are broadcast on the official websites of royalty. Simultaneously, a dispatch is sent to the Press Association and to the media around the world. British media, whether television, radio or print media, have been prepared for the possibility of death for years. In 2017, the Times had enough articles to last eleven days. On-air presenters will be dressed in black.

A train from Balmoral

The London Bridge plan even provided for the course of operations if the queen were to die in her residence at Balmoral in Scotland. The body of the deceased must be brought back to Buckingham Palace in London by royal train, on which flowers will be thrown at each level crossing. The flags will be lowered. The population will be allowed to return home earlier. Some activities will be suspended, matches for example cancelled. Parliamentary sessions will be suspended for ten days. The flags remain at half mast until the acclamation of the new king.

The second Elizabeth II dies, her son Charles becomes king. He must speak on the day of death. He must be officially proclaimed king the next day at 11 am, during the “council of the advent”. The coronation ceremony will not take place until a few months later. Elizabeth II was not crowned until June 2, 1953, 16 months after the death of her father George VI. Charles will have to go to the four nations that make up the United Kingdom (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England).

Funeral at Westminster Abbey

The body of the deceased is then exposed to Westminster Hall from the fourth day following the death, and this, for four days. The British will be able to come and pay homage to him for 23 hours a day.

Nine days after her death, the Queen’s funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey. Big Ben will sound at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The coffin is due to arrive in Westminster at 11 a.m., a first since 1760. Shops and the Stock Exchange will be closed during this final day of homage. A two-minute silence will be observed across the UK at midday. A procession will take place on the Mall, a famous avenue in the British capital. Elizabeth II will rest at Windsor Castle, in the royal vault of Saint-George’s Chapel where her parents and her husband are already buried.

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