New details pertaining to Operation London Bridge, the codename of plans to be followed after the death of Queen Elizabeth, have been disclosed.
It shows how churches across the country will pay their tributes to the British monarch during the period of official mourning.
The Royal Household to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has urged all religious buildings to sound their bells with muffles so that it creates a more solemn sound. It’s been more than seven decades now since the Queen’s father, King George V, passed away because of which muffles have been left to disintegrate.
Vicki Chapman, spokeswoman for Central Council of Church Bell Ringers said on 10th April, “We have spent a lot of time talking to the Royal Household and Lambeth Palace about the day the monarch passes, which we hope will not be any time soon”.
New details of Operation London Bridge
“Adding muffles makes bells sound mournful, more like a hum – so they will sound like thud, thud, thud rather than dong, dong, dong. It is about paying due reverence to the service of the monarch and commemorating her life”, Vicki added.
We have shared everything you need to know about Operation London Bridge in our article today. Keep scrolling!
Details of the plan to be executed when the Queen dies
Operation London Bridge includes micro details of the plan to be executed for the next ten days from the monarch’s passing to her state funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Prince Charles will take charge as the interim King after his mother’s death and will address the nation and the Commonwealth on the day. He will then commence a mourning tour of the UK.
Protocol to be followed
The first government member to officially issue a statement will be the British Prime Minister. As soon as the announcement is made, in less than 10 minutes, flags at all government departments will fly at half-mast and if the Parliament is in session then it will be adjourned immediately.
Before the funeral, the sovereign’s coffin will lie in state for 72 hours at the House of Parliament wherein citizens and other dignitaries can pay their respects during the public viewing.
What is Operation London Bridge?
Operation London Bridge which is also called “London Bridge is Down” includes all the details pertaining to the planning for the announcement of her death, the official period of mourning, and the details of her state funeral. It mainly refers to events that would take place in the United Kingdom.
While few of these critical decisions have been made by the Queen herself the rest of them can only be made by her successor, Charles, after her death.
To ensure the plan is executed, the phrase “London Bridge is down” is expected to be used to pass on the information about the death of the Queen to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and important ministers.
When was the plan created?
These plans were initially created more than six decades ago in the 1960s. The plan is revisited and updated throughout the year involving several stakeholders like the Church of England, Metropolitan Police Service, the British Armed Forces, the media, London boroughs, the Greater London Authority, and Transport for London.
Other Commonwealth countries where Queen Elizabeth II reigns as monarch, have put in place their own plans to be set in motion after her death.
The Earl Marshal and the officers in the College of Heralds organize the funerals and coronations of the Royal family members. They generally use pre-determined phrases as “codenames” for plans pertaining to the death and funeral of a royal family member.
These codenames were earlier used by important officials so that Buckingham Palace switchboard operators are not aware of this development before making it public. Back in 1952, when King George VI passed away, important government officers were informed of the phrase “Hyde Park Corner”.
During the late-20th and early-21st centuries, many codenamed plans for the royal family members were the names of prominent bridges in the United Kingdom. For example Operation Forth Bridge was referred to as the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh while Operation Menai Bridge was for Charles, Prince of Wales.
Execution of Plan
The first official to convey the news will be the British Monarch’s private secretary who will first contact the prime minister. The civil servants will use the code phrase “London Bridge is down” over secured telephone lines to inform the prime minister.
The private secretary will also inform the cabinet secretary and the Privy Council Office which is then passed on to the ministers and senior civil servants. The news will be later communicated not only to the governments of the other countries of which Elizabeth is queen by the Commonwealth and Development Office’s Global Response Centre but also to the governments of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.
All portals of the UK government, the Royal family’s website along with their official social media handles will turn black.
PA Media and the BBC will make the announcement through the Radio Alert Transmission System (RATS).
Action by Parliament
The Parliament of the United Kingdom and Scotland, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments will schedule an emergency meeting as quickly as possible. Then, The prime minister would address the House of Commons.
The new monarch will schedule a meeting with the prime minister and then deliver a speech addressing the nation at 6 pm UK time. The Prime minister and his senior rank ministers will attend a service of remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Accession Council would meet at St James’s Palace to proclaim the new monarch one day after Queen Elizabeth’s death.
The Parliament is expected to meet on the same evening and members of parliament (MP) will swear allegiance to the new monarch along with expressing condolences for the Queen’s death.
Almost all important parliamentary activities will be suspended for the next 10 days.
In less than 10 days from now, Queen Elizabeth is all set to celebrate her 96th birthday on the 21st of April. Read here to know Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration plans.
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