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Life & Style

What happens in the country following a monarch’s passing

  • Preparations for the days, weeks and months after her passing, are reportedly given the code name ‘Operation London Bridge’
Published September 9, 2022
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
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Queen Elizabeth II – the world’s longest reigning monarch – passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, according to a statement released by Buckingham Palace.

The queen's funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey, making her the first British monarch to have her funeral in the famous church since 1760, according to AFP.

But what goes on behind the scenes of an event of a passing of a monarch and eventual succession?

The preparations for the days, weeks and months after her passing, are reportedly given the code name ‘Operation London Bridge’.

Elizabeth, the queen who moved with a changing world

Having ascended the throne in 1952, she saw over a dozen British Prime Ministers.

The newly-installed prime minister, Liz Truss, was probably the first to be informed, by the royal secretary, most likely with a message such as 'London Bridge is Down.'

Incidentally, the Queen’s last royal duty was one of core ceremonial functions as head of state was exactly this, appointing Truss as the 15th prime minister of her reign, which started with Winston Churchill in power.

Following that, the 14 governments aside from the UK where the Queen is head of state, would have been informed over a secure line within minutes, after which the rest of the Commonwealth nations and leaders were informed.

The bloc of 56 countries -- most former British colonies -- spans Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific, and includes 15 realms where Elizabeth II was still head of state, reported AFP.

Buckingham Palace would then display a black-edged statement, as they did, while simultaneously a newsflash would begin flashing in newsrooms across the world, precisely for a catastrophe such as this.

Newscasters change into black attire, and the BBC changed their signature red branding to black, as they did.

Newsrooms were well prepared with a history of her illustrious life and reign, as she had been keeping up with reports of her ailing health.

Across London, businesses and individuals reacted.

Businesses remained closed today out of respect, including British department stores Liberty and Selfridges and British brand Burberry has cancelled its upcoming Spring/Summer 2023 show, to take place during London Fashion Week. Meanwhile, the general public gathers at Balmoral Castle and Buckingham Palace to pay their respects.

Sporting events across the UK have also been cancelled as a mark of respect, during the period of mourning, and more are expected to be cancelled or rescheduled in the coming days, according to Sky News.

Britain’s King Charles to address a nation in mourning

Following the death, Prince Charles immediately succeeded as King, awaiting an official coronation ceremony at a later stage.

The ceremony swearing in Charles III as King is set for Saturday, which would be possibly followed by a tour of the UK in the coming weeks. Charles is slated to give a speech as well, his first address as King, to the nation on Friday.

The coronation is separate from the Accession Council, which assembles in St James's Palace immediately upon the death of a monarch to formally proclaim the accession of the successor to the throne, according to AFP. This Council is set to meet Saturday, reported Sky News.

During the council, the new monarch swears an oath to the assembled 'Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm', declaring their Protestant faith, undertaking to maintain a Protestant succession, and promising to protect the Church of Scotland.

Preparations for the 10 days of official mourning have already started, while her coffin, covered with the royal standard, lies in Balmoral Castle for staff to pay their respects.

It will then travel from Balmoral to Edinburgh to lie at rest in the throne room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the Scottish capital, before being brought to London on the Royal Train.

The day of the funeral will most likely be a bank holiday where the stock exchange will likely remain closed. On the day of the funeral, the bells of Big Ben will chime at 11 am sharp, as her coffin will be brought inside Westminster Abbey.

Following the funeral, the coffin will most likely be taken to Windsor Castle and then to St. George’s castle where she likely be laid to rest most likely next to her father King George VI.

Queen Elizabeth’s death: Reaction from world leaders

A coronation for King Charles will follow most likely within the year.

In 1953, 8,251 guests from 181 countries and territories participated in the coronation of Elizabeth II.

Among them were many representatives of foreign monarchies but no European sovereigns, according to a royal tradition reported AFP.

After the ceremony, a long procession takes place in the streets of London.

Although Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace are less than a mile apart, the procession route stretched 7.2 km in 1953 to allow as many people as possible to attend.

New currency will be printed to reflect the King’s portrait and the Queen’s portrait will slowly be removed from circulation, along with on stamps and passports and the national anthem will be altered to reflect ‘God save the King' according to Khaleej Times.

The UK had recently celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of its longest serving monarch on a grand scale in June, coinciding with Queen Elizabeth II's official birthday. Her husband, Prince Philip, passed away aged 99 last April who she stated was had been her “strength and stay”.

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