Updated: Fri, 09 Sep 2022 09:31 AM IST
QUEEN Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch (70 years), passed away at 96 in London, paving the way for her first-born Prince Charles to become the King and a long-planned "Operation London Bridge" goes underway in the British Isles. The national anthem immediately shifted back to "God Save the King".
The death of Queen Elizabeth II, exactly a year after her husband Prince Phillip, the duke of Edenborough, passed, has set in motion a meticulously choreographed and coordinated procedure for which the Palace, the government, the news media, the local authorities and the Queen herself had long planned.
Amid the public mourning, the national grief and the lowering of flags will come a transition of power and national memorialising, known as Operation London Bridge, which will overtake the country's agenda for days and play out potentially for months before the coronation of a new monarch.
By the time the world knew about the queen's death, her son Charles had already become King. Under common law, the moment of the sovereign's death marks the moment the heir becomes the monarch.
According to the blueprint, the Queen's death would be communicated with one coded phrase - "London Bridge is down." The Queen's private secretary, Edward Young, was tasked with delivering the message to the Prime Minister. Then the Foreign Office was responsible for relaying the message to Commonwealth leaders, a loose organization largely composed of former colonies of the British Empire, which includes 15 countries where the monarch is also the head of state.
Charles, as the new king, automatically became the head of state for the realms once ruled by his mother. Based on earlier blueprints, news outlets across the country, and around the world, would learn of the Queen's death in tandem. However, the news first appeared in a post on the Royal Family's Twitter account, and on their website, before being sent to news organisations around the world by the British Press Association.
The flag at Buckingham Palace was soon lowered to half-mast. In the tradition of decades of royal announcements, a notice was placed on a sign at the gates of the monarch's official residence, Buckingham Palace.
New King's Accession:
The country now enters an official period of mourning that continues until after the queen's funeral, which is expected to take place 10 days after her death and be a public holiday. While the sovereign's political power is largely symbolic, the monarchy plays a constitutional role, so there will be formalities conducted with the expected royal flair.
According to protocol, within 24 hours of the queen's death, lawmakers in Parliament will take oaths of allegiance to the new king, the New York Times said. The Accession Council, a ceremonial body, will be summoned to St. James's Palace, a Tudor royal residence near Buckingham Palace, to officially proclaim the new sovereign.
Charles will make four traditional public statements as he enters his new role. At the first meeting of the Privy Council, he will give a personal and political inaugural declaration. In the past, this happened in a closed ceremony and the text was published after the fact in the London Gazette - the official government records.
Then come more formalities, most of which date to a narrow period of British history that has become enshrined in law and nods to the foundations of the modern British state. Charles will make a statutory oath to uphold the Church of Scotland during the first Privy Council and confirm the timing of the queen's funeral.
He will later make the accession declaration oath, a vow to maintain the established Protestant line of succession, usually made at the next state opening of Parliament. And lastly, he will make the Coronation Oath, which includes a promise to uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of England.
At 11 a.m. on the day after the Queen's death, a proclamation will be read that officially declares the reign of the new king, which is then passed across the country, first by heralds who will arrive on horseback wearing official uniforms that have roots in the clothing from the Middle Ages to read the news in Trafalgar Square and then the Royal Exchange in London.
Two days after the Queen's death, according to the plan, the proclamation will be read out in ceremonial fashion in capitals across the United Kingdom - Edinburgh; Cardiff, Wales; and Belfast, Northern Ireland - and later, high sheriffs in traditional garb will declare the news in towns and villages across the country.
The Queen's coffin is expected to rest in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace for four days after her death, before being moved in a formal parade to Westminster Hall, where it will lie in state until the funeral. The coffin will be placed on a raised platform draped in regal purple, and tradition dictates that each corner of the platform be guarded around the clock.
The queen's funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey. On the morning of Elizabeth's funeral, as her coffin pauses at the entrance to the church at 11 a.m. after a short procession, protocol calls for the nation to fall silent in a moment of reflection. After the funeral ceremony, the queen's coffin is expected to be placed on the same green gun carriage that carried her forefathers' coffins, in a final procession down the mall, which runs between Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square.
It will then be driven to Windsor Castle, about 23 miles away, to the resting place of nearly all British sovereigns since George III. Elizabeth will be buried alongside her royal predecessors at St. George's Chapel. Her father, mother and sister are also interred there.
(With Agency Inputs)