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Here's What Happens To The Government Following The Death Of The Queen

Here's What Happens To The Government Following The Death Of The Queen

The death of the monarch has triggered a detailed process for her son's succession involving Parliament and the Royal Household (Alamy)

5 min read

Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. The UK will now enter a 10-day period of mourning in which Parliament and almost all government business will be paused.

News of Her Majesty’s death has triggered a highly detailed plan known by the codename Operation London Bridge. It includes important steps from the British political establishment.

Because the Queen has died while at her Balmoral residence in Scotland, an additional plan, Operation Unicorn will be undertaken to bring her back to London.

A separate process, Operation Spring Tide, which sees Charles become King, will also take place. 

All government business will now be paused during an official period of mourning that will end with her funeral. 

Here is how politicians will be involved in the 10-day long process that has long been planned by the Cabinet Office: 

D-Day

The day the Queen's death is announced is known within government as ‘D-Day’, with each following day leading up to her funeral will be referred to as “D+1”, “D+2”  and so on, until the 10-day process concludes. 

The first person in government to be alerted of the Queen's death was Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was informed by the Cabinet Secretary. She then spoke to the new King, who will be known as Charles III.

The Foreign Office’s Global Response Centre is responsible for informing the 15 other countries where the Queen is head of state, and the rest of the Commonwealth nations.

The public was then officially notified with a proclamation placed at the gates of Buckingham Palace and in a tweet from the official Royal Family account.

An email was sent from the Cabinet Secretary to government departments, after which flags across Whitehall were lowered to half-mast. This took place within 10 minutes of the announcement.

The official UK Government website ‘gov.uk’ is now displaying a black banner and the publishing of non-urgent content has been paused. Social media posts from government departments have also been suspended. 

Normal proceedings at Parliament in Westminster and the devolved legislatures will be adjourned for 10 days.

Although MPs tweeted their tributes, Truss was the first politician to make a formal public statement, speaking outside Downing Street this evening.

"We are all devastated by the news we have just heard from Balmoral,” the PM said.

"The death of Her Majesty the Queen is a huge shock to the nation and to the world.

"Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”

She concluded: "And with the passing of the second Elizabethan age, we usher in a new era in the magnificent history of our great country – exactly as Her Majesty would have wished – by saying the words ‘God save the King’."

The Ministry of Defence will arrange gun salutes and a national minute’s silence will be announced.

Truss is also chairing an operational meeting with senior Cabinet ministers, police and representative from the Royal Household tonight inside Downing Street.

Accession

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet will hold an audience with the new King tomorrow after he returns to London and Charles will deliver a broadcast to the nation at 6pm.

On Friday evening a remembrance service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral attended by Truss and other senior ministers after a group known as the Accession Council, attended by privy counsellors, will meet at St James’ Palace to proclaim King Charles the new sovereign.

A proclamation will then be read at St James’ Palace and the Royal Exchange, confirming Charles as King.

Parliament is likely to meet to agree on a message of condolence, and the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will outline timings for a debate in the House of Commons to hear tributes from MPs, provisionally lasting for two days.

Because The Queen died in Scotland, her coffin will first lie in repose at Holyrood Palace followed by a service of reception at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh.

It will then be transported back to London by royal train, a process known as Operation Unicorn, and the Prime Minister and senior ministers will welcome the coffin at a special reception at St Pancras station, before it is taken to Buckingham Palace ahead of being taken to Westminster Hall to lie in state.

The following days

For the next three days, King Charles will receive a motion of condolence at Westminster Hall, before undertaking a tour of the UK.

Once he returns next week a process called Operation Lion will begin, which is a procession taking his mother’s body from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, with a service held in Westminster Hall after the coffin’s arrival.

She will then lie in state for three days, with the process for allowing members of the public to view it and offer condolence codenamed Operation Feather.

The coffin will rest on a raised box known as a catafalque, where it will be on display for 23 hours per day. VIPs will be granted special tickets to pay their respects at an allotted time.

Funeral

A number of government departments including the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Department for Transport are now finalising plans for the Queen’s state funeral.

It was reported by the Guardian and Politico that Operation London Bridge documents included a worst-case scenario, in which London could become quite literally “full” for the first time ever with hundreds of thousands of people descending on the capital, with public services stretched beyond breaking point.

The funeral service itself will take place at Westminster Abbey, expected to be on Monday, 19 September, and will be deemed a “Day of National Mourning”.

It will not be an official public holiday but the government will leave it to employers to decide to give employees the day off.

The day after Parliament will reconvene and begin sitting as usual once more.

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