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

It is an old protocol developed over many years which details 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 disclosed the details in 2017. The plan corresponds to the code name “London Bridge”, it has been prepared for decades. “London Bridge is down”, London Bridge has collapsed, it is by this coded formula that Prime Minister Liz Truss will be notified of the sovereign’s death by the private secretary via a secure line. In the process, the Secretary of State is responsible for announcing the sad news to Commonwealth countries, especially to the 15 states where she was head of state, such as Canada or Australia.

The public is the next to be warned. An officer hangs a message on a black background on the gate of Buckingham Palace, London. Similar messages, sober, in the evening background, are broadcast on the official websites of royalty. At the same time, a broadcast is sent to the Press Association and to media worldwide. British media, whether TV, radio or print, have been preparing 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 surgery should the Queen die at her residence in Balmoral, Scotland. The body of the deceased will be returned to Buckingham Palace in London by royal train, on which flowers will be thrown at each crossing. The flags will be lowered. The population is 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 his death. He is to be officially proclaimed king the following day at 11, under the “advent council”. The coronation ceremony will not take place until a few months later. Elizabeth II was not crowned until 2 June 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).

Burial in Westminster Abbey

The body of the deceased is then exposed to Westminster Hall from the fourth day after the death, and this for four days. The British will be able to come and pay tribute 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 and 11. The coffin will arrive at Westminster at 11 a.m., the first since 1760. Shops and the Stock Exchange will be closed during this final day of tribute. 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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