Britain has an intricate plan that maps out the 10 days after Queen Elizabeth’s death
Queen Elizabeth II is being mourned by her family, fans and admirers. In Britain, her death at age 96 has thrown a state apparatus into motion that has sat idle for 70 years — since Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died in 1952.
The British government dubbed the intricate protocol of handling Elizabeth’s death “Operation London Bridge.” It ranges from succession rules to the process of bringing the queen’s coffin from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to London.
The London Bridge plans were leaked to Politico last fall. Some of the details may have changed since then — but using them as a guide, here’s a brief look at what the documents say will happen in the first 10 days after the end of the queen’s record-setting reign:
The royal household notifies the public of the queen’s death. Prince Charles immediately succeeds to the throne upon his mother’s death. He will be known as King Charles III. His wife, Camilla, becomes queen consort. The couple stay at Balmoral overnight.
Numerous commemorations are planned from moments of silence to military gun salutes and remembrances in honor of Elizabeth.
Charles returns to London. The Accession Council — a gathering traditionally held at St. James’s Palace — meets, usually within 24 hours of a monarch’s death. It formally declares Elizabeth’s death and the new king’s accession to the throne.
Parliament frames a message of condolence and suspends its normal business until after Elizabeth’s funeral.
Elizabeth’s body is brought from Scotland to Buckingham Palace in London. A ceremonial procession carries her coffin to Westminster. She lies in state at Westminster Hall for three days, during which the public can visit for 23 hours of each day.
As final funeral preparations are being made in London, Charles travels to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, visiting leaders in the United Kingdom.
A state funeral service is held at Westminster Abbey, triggering an observance of two minutes’ silence in the U.K.
After a final service in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the queen is buried on the castle grounds next to her husband, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021.