Upon the momentous occasion of the death of a Royal Family member, there is always a contingency plan in place, codenamed after a bridge. Operation London Bridge is the codename for the sequence of events that will take place following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, which sadly took place yesterday.
See a condensed version of the 10-day plan for Operation London Bridge and Operation Spring Tide (referring to Charles’s accession to the throne) below, beginning with what has reportedly internally been dubbed ‘D-Day’:
A ‘call cascade’ alerts the Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary and the most senior ministers and officials in the hours immediately following the Queen’s death. The royal household issues an ‘official notification’ disclosing the news to the public.
The UK parliament and the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will adjourn, and parliament will be recalled if it is not currently sitting. The Royal Family will display a black holding page and short statement on its website, and gov.uk and government departmental social media pages will display a black banner at the top. The Royal Family will announce plans for the Queen’s funeral, expected to take place 10 days after her death.
The Prime Minister will make a statement (before any other MPs are permitted to), the Ministry of Defence will arrange gun salutes across all saluting stations, and a national minute’s silence will be announced. The PM will later hold an audience with the new king, before King Charles delivers a broadcast to the nation at 6pm. There will be a remembrance service at St Paul’s Cathedral attended by the PM and some senior ministers.
The Accession Council will meet at St James’ Palace to proclaim King Charles the new sovereign, attended by privy counselors, including the PM, dressed in morning dress or lounge suits with black or dark ties. A proclamation will be read at St James’ Palace and the Royal Exchange, confirming Charles as king.
Parliament will meet to agree on a message of condolence, while all other parliamentary business will be suspended for 10 days. MPs will deliver tributes in the House of Commons, and the PM and the Cabinet will hold an audience with the new king.
The Queen’s coffin will return to Buckingham Palace from Balmoral, either by royal train, (Operation Unicorn) or royal plane (Operation Overstudy). The PM and ministers will welcome it at a special reception.
King Charles will receive the motion of condolence at Westminster Hall, before undertaking a tour of the UK, beginning with Scotland; where he will visit the Scottish parliament and attend a service at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.
King Charles’s tour will take him on to Northern Ireland, where he’ll receive another motion of condolence at Hillsborough Castle and attend a service at Belfast’s St Anne’s Cathedral.
Operation Lion, referring to the procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, will take place along a designated ceremonial route through London. A service will be held in Westminster Hall after the coffin’s arrival.
D-Day+6 to D-Day+9
The Queen’s body will lie in state at the Palace of Westminster for three days, codenamed Operation Feather. The coffin will rest on a catafalque (raised box) in the middle of Westminster Hall, where it can be viewed by members of the public for 23 hours per day. VIPs will be granted special tickets to pay their respects at an allotted time.
During this period, government departments including the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Department for Transport will be consumed by arrangements for the funeral, such as organizing the arrivals of foreign heads of state, security arrangements to mitigate any increased terror threat, and dealing with pressure on public transport amid high tourist numbers.
A rehearsal will take place for the state funeral procession.
King Charles will proceed to Wales for another motion of condolence at the Welsh parliament, and a service at Cardiff’s Llandaff Cathedral.
The state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey. Deemed a ‘Day of National Mourning’, it’s thought that the government will not order employers to give employees the day off, leaving this as a matter between employees and their staff. If it takes place on the weekend or an existing bank holiday, an extra public day off will not be granted.
There will be a two-minute silence across the country at midday, and processions will take place in London and Windsor. There will then be a committal service in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and the Queen will be buried at Windsor, at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
Originally published in Tatler.com