Advice Grief, Loss & Bereavement Operation London Bridge: What happens after the Queen's death?

Operation London Bridge: What happens after the Queen's death?

What is ‘Operation London Bridge’

Operation London Bridge is the code name for the plan for what happens when Queen Elizabeth dies.

The plan has never been formally released but elements of it have been leaked over the years.
And a 2017 investigation by the Guardian revealed much of the detail of this plan.

What are the code words for Operation London Bridge:

  • “London bridge is down” is used to secretly announce the Queen’s death by the private secretary
  • “D-Day” is the code word for the day of the Queen’s death
  • “D-Day+1” is the code word for the day after the Queen’s death. D-Day+10 was planned to be her state funeral.

What happens next after the Queen’s death - a timeline:

What happens on the day of the Queen's death (D-Day), Thursday, 8th September

  • The Queen dies at Balmoral Castle, aged 96, after reigning for 70 years and 214 days
  • Charles is immediately made King
  • The Queen’s private secretary delivered the message that the Queen had died to the Prime Minister by saying "London Bridge is down"
  • The Foreign Office relays the news of her death to the Commonwealth leaders
  • Her death is announced to the public via the Royal Family’s Twitter account and on their website before being announced in the press
  • The country enters an official period of mourning, expected to last around 10 days, until the date of her state funeral
  • The flags at Buckingham Palace, other government building, and military establishments were lowered to half-mast

What happens the day after the Queen's death (D-Day+1), Friday 9th September

  • King Charles III travels from Balmoral to meet Liz Truss the PM
  • Courts open in the name of the King
  • At midday Churches across the UK toll their bells in tribute to the Queen
  • At 1pm the military perform the ‘Death Gun Saltues’ in Hyde Park and across the UK, firing 96 times to mark each year of Queen Elizabeth’s life
  • Charles addresses the nation at 6pm
  • A remembrance service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral, the PM and other senior ministers will attend

What happens two days after the Queen's death (D-Day+2), Saturday 10th September

  • Senior MPs have to swear an oath of allegiance to the King
  • The Accession Council will officially proclaim Charles the new sovereign.
  • The first Privy Council of Charles’s reign will be held - this might be televised

What happens three days after the Queen's death (D-Day+3), Sunday 11th September

  • The Queen's coffin travels from Balmoral to Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • There will be a ceremonial procession along the Royal Mile to St Gile's Cathedral in Edinburgh
  • There will be a service for members of the Royal Family

What happens before in the days before the Queen's state funeral

  • The Queen’s coffin will be flown from St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace
  • The coffin will be processed to Westminster Hall where it will stay for four days until her state funeral, this is called 'lying in state'

What happens on the day of the Queen's State funeral, Monday 19th September

Date to be confirmed by Buckingham Palace.

  • Her state funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey

  • As her coffin is taken from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey at 11 am there will be a moment of silence

  • Following the funeral, her coffin will be processed down to Trafalgar Square and down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, before being taken to Windsor Castle to be buried alongside Prince Philip and her parents and sister in St. George’s Chapel

  • The London Stock Exchange will close on the day of the Queen’s funeral and possible days after

  • This will be a public holiday - many businesses, shops and schools will close on this day

What happens after the Queen's state funeral

  • There will be a 1 week period of royal mourning for her family and staff
  • Months later Charles will be formally crowned at his coronation

Not everyone will have or need such an elaborate plan for what happens after they die, but putting some form of plan in place for when we die does make life easier for the people we leave behind.
Find out what your plans for when you die look like by taking this free 1 minute quiz today.

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