Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II: The secret plan for when she dies

Queen Elizabeth II is alive and well - for now.

An extremely comprehensive, super-detailed plan is already in place for how the world will learn of the Queen's passing, according to The Guardian.

Rumours of ill health have long dogged the 90-year-old monarch. In June 2015, a BBC reporter erroneously tweeted that she'd died, and she was waylaid with a brutal cold for weeks over the holidays this year. Every time the Queen looks to be in less than perfect health, the worry rises again.

When the time does come, Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen's private secretary, will be the first official to convey the news.

Geidt will call the prime minister and use the secret "The Queen is dead" code.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey. London in 1953. (AP Photo/Leslie Priest, File)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey. London in 1953. (AP Photo/Leslie Priest, File)

In the past, palace officials used a code to make sure switchboard operators weren't the first to find out.

When King George VI (the last British monarch to pass) died in 1952, the code that palace workers used was "Hyde Park Corner."

Queen Elizabeth's secret code is "London Bridge is down." This statement will kick off Operation London Bridge, the plan to alert the world that Queen Elizabeth II has died.

After the prime minister is alerted, the Foreign Office's Global Response Center will inform the 15 governments where the Queen is still head of state, including Australia, Canada, the Bahamas and Belize. Then the 36 nations where she still serves as a figurehead will be informed.

Next, the Press Association will send out a news alert to simultaneously notify the world's media - a break from the past, when the BBC was always the first to know about royal deaths. Social media and modern technology have negated that system.

A handout photograph dated May 1928 attributed to British King George VI, when Duke of York, released by the Royal Collection Trust on 21 August 2013 showing Princess Elizabeth sitting in a wicker pram.
A handout photograph dated May 1928 attributed to British King George VI, when Duke of York, released by the Royal Collection Trust on 21 August 2013 showing Princess Elizabeth sitting in a wicker pram.

But the BBC's "radio alert transmission system," also known as RATS, will be activated. This is a Cold War-era alarm that most BBC staff have only heard used in tests.

British news outlets have had decades to prepare for coverage of the Queen's passing, with the Guardian reporting that places like the Times UK have 11 days of coverage planned.

Royal experts have already been contracted for exclusive appearances with organisations like Sky News and ITN - which reportedly have rehearsed their broadcasts, replacing the Queen's name with "Mrs. Robinson."

Newscasters will all wear black and the coverage of Britain's longest-reigning monarch will likely go on for months.

Radio stations in the UK have blue "obit lights" that go off in such events. DJs have sombre playlists cued up for these occasions and will know to play inoffensive music before switching to news.

In 2011, a former BBC radio producer wrote that if you're listening to Radio 1 and "Haunted Dancehall (Nursery Remix)" by Sabres of Paradise starts playing, "Something terrible has just happened."

A footman in mourning clothes will pin a notice to the Buckingham Palace gates, as the palace's website is updated with the statement on a dark background.

Prince Charles becomes King Charles, making Prince William the Prince of Wales and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess of Wales - Princess Diana's former title.

1954-Queen-1   Queen Elizabeth signing the visitor's book at the Rockhampton Town Hall on her 1954 visit to the city.   Photo supplied by the Rockhampton and District Historical Society.
1954-Queen-1 Queen Elizabeth signing the visitor's book at the Rockhampton Town Hall on her 1954 visit to the city. Photo supplied by the Rockhampton and District Historical Society.

Great Britain will enter an official 12-day mourning period, with the Queen's funeral taking place at the end of the two weeks.

In December, the Queen announced she'd be stepping down from 25 of the over 600 organisations in which she serves as patron. Queen Elizabeth II turns 91 on April 21.

News Corp Australia


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