What is Operation London Bridge? Will there be a Bank Holiday if Queen Elizabeth II dies?

After news broke that members of the Royal Family were heading to Balmoral to visit The Queen over concerns for her health, questions have been asked about Operation London Bridge.

A statement from Buckingham Palace, which was published on September 8, read: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.

“The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

The Queen’s four children along with Prince William, Prince Harry, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, travelled to Balmoral to be with her.

Queen Elizabeth II attends an Armed Forces Act of Loyalty Parade at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 28, 2022 in EdinburghQueen Elizabeth II attends an Armed Forces Act of Loyalty Parade at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 28, 2022 in Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II attends an Armed Forces Act of Loyalty Parade at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 28, 2022 in Edinburgh
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A plan has long been in place for when Her Majesty dies, and this is called Operation London Bridge.

What is Operation London Bridge?

The detailed steps have been enforced since the 1960s. However, a further detailed plan has been retrieved by political publication Politico which outlines the necessary protocols to take when the Queen dies.

The timeline of steps begins from the day of the Queen’s death and follows through 10 days following the date of her death, including the positioning of the coffin for her funeral.

Below is a detailed diary of what will happen from the day The Queen dies.

Day 1

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On the day of the Queen’s death bells will ring at midday (depending on the time of death) at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.

A gun is used as a salute at dusk in Hyde Park. One shot for each year the Queen has lived.

The government confirms the period of National Mourning, which is likely to be 12 days.

Prince Charles will then pay his respects to his mother. He will hold an audience briefing with the Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace and then will receive Earl Marshal to approve plans for the funeral.

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Prince Charles will present a televised speech to the nation which will air around 6pm.

He will then hold a meeting of the Lord Chamberlain’s Committee.

In the evening, the Prime Minister and ministers will attend a public service of remembrance at St Paul’s without the royals.

According to leaked documents obtained by Politico, if sitting, the UK parliament and the devolved legislatures will adjourn. If not sitting, the parliament will be recalled and the Prime Minister will be the first government minister to make a statement.

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Then the Buckingham Palace briefing will begin where there will most likely be a media briefing the day after the Queen’s death, however, depending on the time of the announcement this date could be moved to the day of her death.

Day 2

Household members and the estate pay their respects to the Queen as her coffin is at rest.

At 10am the Accession Council will meet at St James’ Palace to proclaim Prince Charles sovereign - this is organised in two parts; the first is without Charles there and the second includes the Privy Council including Charles, Prince William, Camilla and the rest of the royal family. The public proclamation is to be read at midday by Garter King of Arms at St James’ Palace and again later at The Royal Exchange in the City of London.

Flags will return to full mast at 1pm for 24 hours, when they will be returned to half-mast.

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Gun salutes will occur at Hyde Park and the Tower of London.

Parliament will meet, MPs will pay tribute in the Commons and all of the other parliamentary business will be suspended for 10 days.

The King will meet the public for the first time and will view flowers outside Buckingham Palace.

At 3.30pm the Prime Minister and Cabinet will hold an audience conference with Charles, along with the opposition party leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Dean of Westminster.

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The time of the King’s message to the Armed Forces is yet to be confirmed.

A book of condolence is opened at St James’ Palace and other venues.

Day 3

Proclamations in capitals of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be held. The Queen’s coffin will be taken back to Buckingham Palace and if she passes away at Sandringham, this will be via a train and either via a train or plane if she dies at Balmoral.

Flags will return to half-mast at 1pm.

The new King will host a reception for Realm Commissioners at Buckingham Palace.

Day 4

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Early morning rehearsal for moving the coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster.

Charles will receive the motion of condolence at Westminster Hall in the morning before going on a tour of the UK, starting with the Ceremony of the Keys at Holyroodhouse, a service at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, an audience with First Minister at Holyroodhouse and a motion of condolence and reception at Scottish Parliament. Charles will stay overnight.

Day 5

The coffin procession rehearsal will start early in the morning from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.

Charles will be in Northern Ireland, then audiences at Hillsborough with First Minister, then Deputy First Minister, then Speaker before he will receive a motion of condolence at and attending a service at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. The coffin procession rehearsal will start from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster.

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The King will fly back to RAF Northolt and then return to London.

Day 6

The coffin will be moved from the Throne Room to the Bow Room.

The coffin will be taken on a gun carriage drawn by horses from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall with military presence.

Walking procession: Senior members of the royal family and household.

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The procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster will move along a ceremonial route through London before a service at Westminster Hall led by the Archbishop of Canterbury once the coffin has arrived.

Bells will chime and a gun salute will be fired, Big Ben will be ringing throughout the procession with a ‘minute gun’ sounds

Lying in state begins for the public at 4pm.

Charles travels to Highgrove.

Day 7

The Queen will be laid to rest in state at Westminster Hall for three days, the coffin will be open to the public for 23 hours per day with tickets issued for particular time slots for VIPs.

A funeral procession rehearsal will take place in the early morning.

The King will spend the day at Highgrove.

Day 8

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The King will receive multi-faith leaders at Buckingham Palace at 6pm.

The King’s vigil at the Queen’s lying in state, including her other children, in the evening. The time is yet to be confirmed.

The Home Office on security, the Department for Transport is concerned about the transport networks being extremely overwhelmed by those travelling into London.

Day 9

An early morning coffin movement rehearsal takes place at Windsor ahead of the funeral.

Charles receives senior Defence Staff at Buckingham Palace.

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The King visits Met Police Commissioner at Lambeth Control Centre.

Then he receives Governor Generals and following on from that, Realm Prime Ministers at Buckingham Palace.

Day 10

Heads of state begin arriving and a condolence book is opened at Lancaster House while they may decide to visit the Queen lying in state.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be in charge of arrivals of heads of state and the VIPs from around the world ahead of the funeral, European royals stay at Buckingham Palace and others stay at Claridge’s.

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The Order of Service is revealed. The King is briefed on funeral arrangements in the morning. A third audience with the Prime Minister around midday.

Charles meets crowds outside Buckingham Palace.

The reception for foreign royals at Buckingham Palace, followed by a reception with Charles and royals with heads of state and Commonwealth realm Prime Ministers.

Potential grandchildren’s vigil at lying in state: William, Harry and more.

Day 11

The funeral will take place. Walking procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey with the King and royal family - with the coffin pulled by Naval ratings.

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The state funeral at Westminster Abbey will be televised at 11am.

The walking procession to Wellington Arch will take place with the King and royal family. The coffin will be driven in a state hearse from London to Windsor and through Windsor.

A televised committal service will be held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle followed by a private interment in George VI Memorial Chapel. A two-minute silence will be held at midday.

A designated ‘Day of National Mourning’ will begin - but this will not be a bank holiday.

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