Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. The monarch died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday, 8 September 2022, after reigning for 70 years. The day the Queen dies follows a series of carefully constructed plans. The plans have been in place since the 1960s in a process named “Operation London Bridge”. The plan includes details on what will happen during the ten days following the Queen’s death (Independent). Is Operation London Bridge based on justice?
Operation London Bridge: Overview
Operation London Bridge refers to the plan to deal with the death of the head of state in Britain. It was first reported by the Guardian in 2017 and later by Politico in 2021(Indian Express). According to the Washington Post, Operation London Bridge was the code word attributed to a formally choreographed sequence of events that would occur after the death of the British monarch. As New York Times says, the royal family would communicate the Queen’s death with one coded phrase. The coded phrase is “London Bridge is down.”
According to the Independent, Operation London Bridge calls the day that the Queen dies “D-Day”. It refers to every day afterwards as D+1 and D+2 and so forth. Based on Operation London Bridge, the Foreign Office was responsible for sending the message to Commonwealth leaders. Commonwealth is a loose organization composed mainly of former colonies of the British Empire. It includes 15 countries where the monarch is also the head of state. Charles, as the new king, automatically became the head of state for the realms once ruled by his mother.
Operation London Bridge: Details
The plan calls the day of the Queen’s death “D-Day.” (the Washington Post). It calls the day after her death D+1 and the day of her funeral D+10 (D-day plus ten days) (Indian Express). POLITICO has obtained documents laying out Operation London Bridge in detail. POLITICO explains the plan as follows:
Parliament will meet to agree on a message of condolence. They will suspend parliamentary business for ten days. MPs will give tributes in the House of Commons. As Independent says, the UK parliament will adjourn, as will devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. On this day, the Accession Council will meet at St James’ Palace to proclaim Prince Charles the new Sovereign.
The Queen’s coffin will return to Buckingham Palace. Proclamations will be read in the devolved administrations. Tributes are likely to continue in parliament.
In the morning, King Charles will receive the motion of condolence at Westminster Hall. In the afternoon, he will start a tour of the United Kingdom. He will start the time with a visit to the Scottish parliament. Then he will attend a service at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. According to the Independent, Charles will then head to Wales and attend a service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.
King Charles will arrive in Northern Ireland. He will receive another motion of condolence at Hillsborough Castle. He will also attend a service at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. A rehearsal will take place for Operation LION. Operation LION refers to the procession of the coffin from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.
The procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster will take place along a ceremonial route through London. There will be a service in Westminster Hall following the coffin’s arrival.
D-Day+6 to D-Day+9 — and Whitehall worries
The Queen will lie in state at the Palace of Westminster for three days, in operation codenamed FEATHER. Her coffin will lie on a raised box known as a catafalque in the middle of Westminster Hall. The Hall will be open to the public for 23 hours per day. On D-Day+7, King Charles will travel to Wales to receive another motion of condolence at the Welsh parliament. He will also attend a service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.
The state funeral itself will take place at Westminster Abbey. Processions will take place in London and Windsor. There will be a committal service in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Then they will bury the Queen in the castle’s King George VI Memorial Chapel.
Challenges for departments, businesses and social media
Documents that POLITICO has seen show that the government overall believes it has the capacity to successfully deliver the funeral. However, the work required will be huge, and specific concerns have been raised about potential challenges. The departments facing the greatest difficulty are the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Department for Transport.
As it says in Cosmopolitan, the Queen’s actual funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey nine days after her death. The Guardian reports that basically everything will be closed—including the stock market.
As Independent says, all government departmental social media pages will show a black banner in the wake of the Queen’s death. They must change their profile pictures to their departmental crest. Social media will not publish any non-urgent content. Additionally, they ban retweets.
Queen Elizabeth II’s death elicited an array of reactions around the globe, from heartfelt tributes to anti-monarchist sentiment (New York Times). The details of the schedule for the ten days between the Queen’s death and her funeral range from the banal to the ridiculous (POLITICO). Tatler refers to Royal residences and the monarch’s private estates that will stay closed until after the Queen’s Funeral. The monarch’s estates include Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House and Hillsborough Castle, the Sovereign’s official Northern Irish residence.
To sum up, the royal family is spending so much on numerous ceremonies for the death of the Queen. They are holding such ceremonies while many British people are under the catastrophic pressure of the cost-of-living crisis. People would like to have freedom. They have anti-monarchist sentiments. They do not want to be under the reign of an autocratic monarch. Where does the money for the Queen’s beloved private estates come from? The royal family is living with the highest level of welfare. But many British people do not have the basic requirements of a normal life.