Operation London Bridge The Queen

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II smiles during a visit to the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on 23 May, 2022. Image: Paul Grover/AFP.

Operation London Bridge: What happens when The Queen dies?

Should The Queen pass away, a protocol called ‘Operation London Bridge’ comes into play – and these 16 things will change immediately.

Operation London Bridge The Queen

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II smiles during a visit to the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London on 23 May, 2022. Image: Paul Grover/AFP.

The Queen is now under ‘medical supervision’, and doctors have become gravely concerned about her current condition. That’s the update that was published by Buckingham Palace on Thursday – and Operation London Bridge could already be underway.

Queen Elizabeth II: Latest news and health updates for Thursday 8 September

The bleak update provided by the Royal Family carries little room for optimism. Princes Charles, William, and Harry have rushed to The Queen’s bedside. The 96-year-old has been struggling with her health for most of the year – and she’s missed several key events as a consequence.

With the writing seemingly on the wall, many have been left to ask a burning question…

Operation London Bridge The Queen
Operation London Bridge will commence as soon as The Queen dies – Photo: Flickr / Gabriel

What actually happens when The Queen dies?

Well, Operation London Bridge kicks in. That’s the codename given to the protocol which must be undertaken when the long-reigning royal passes away. It gives full and comprehensive details on how the news should be communicated, and instructs public officials on their desired conduct.

There are two parts to Operation London Bridge: The formalities, and the impact on society. A grief-stricken Britain is expected to temporarily grind to a halt, as various ceremonies and mourning processes take place. In the immediate aftermath of Elizabeth II’s death, this is the plan:

Operation London Bridge: Formalities and official announcements

  • The Queen’s death will first be communicated by her private secretary. This information will then be passed on to UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss.
  • Flags will be flown at half-mast within 10 minutes of government officials being told about her death. Gun salutes will take place afterwards.
  • A ‘call cascade’ between the UK and all Commonwealth Nations will have to take place.
  • All politicians will be told to communicate; ‘We have just been informed of the death of Her Majesty The Queen. Discretion is required’.
  • Any tweets and retweets by government officials must be signed-off by spin doctors first. No-one can make a statement until the PM does.
  • A TV announcement will be made by Buckingham Palace. A funeral will then take place 10 days later.
  • Her body will lie in state for three days at Westminster Abbey. Prince Charles, expected to become King, will then tour the country.
  • The day of The Queen’s funeral AND the day of the Prince Charles’ coronation will BOTH be public holidays in the UK.

Operation London Bridge: The impact on society and culture

  • An ‘obit light’ will go off in all commercial radio stations across the UK. When this happens DJs will be required to play ‘sombre music only’.
  • The BBC (Britain’s state broadcaster) will enforce the wearing of black ties amongst all male presenters before an announcement is made.
  • The network will then briefly show her portraits, accompanied by the national anthem, before the news of her death is broken.
  • TV schedules will be disrupted for days on end: Archive footage and pre-recorded content will likely fill the airwaves.
  • In fact, over a 12-day mourning period, the BBC will be required to REMOVE all of its comedy programmes.
  • Airline pilots will also be required to tell passengers about The Queen’s death while they are mid-flight.
  • Britain would eventually be compelled to reprint its currency too, to reflect the new monarch on the throne.
  • Netflix also has a plan for Operation London Bridge: Production on The Crown would cease ‘for a week’.