Here's Exactly What Will Go Down Now That Queen Elizabeth II Has Died

The public is fascinated by the members of the British royal family, but none so much as the head of the family, the Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth II was England's longest-reigning monarch - she acceded to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, and reigned until her death on September 8, 2022, at age 96. Her death will send her country spiraling into a period of mourning and immense change. So what exactly is happening inside and outside Buckingham Palace now that England's beloved queen has died?

It was once considered treason to speak of a monarch's potential death, a crime punishable by death. Luckily, planning for a monarch's demise is no longer seen as blasphemous, but necessary, and the plans for Queen Elizabeth II's passing are intricate, meticulous, and even rehearsed. The protocol for the country, codenamed "London Bridge," involves 12 days of mourning, very specific public announcements, and a new monarch. 

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  • Prince Charles Became King The Moment Elizabeth II Died
    Photo: Arnaud Bouissou / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Prince Charles Became King The Moment Elizabeth II Died

    Princess Elizabeth was only 26 when her father died and she immediately became Queen Elizabeth II. Her official coronation came about a year later, but the moment King George VI died, Elizabeth became Queen of England.

    The tradition will continue now that Elizabeth II has died, making her son, Prince Charles, king. Some monarchs choose to change their name, but in the day of her death, it was announced that Prince Charles would now be known as King Charles III.

    Charles will officially be proclaimed king at a meeting of the Accession Council, with the proclamation read at St. James's Palace and the Royal Exchange in London.

  • The Queen's Private Secretary Was Tasked With Breaking The News

    The first moves toward informing the public was made by Sir Edward Young, Elizabeth's private secretary. Young called the newly elected prime minister, Liz Truss, who then spread the news to the 15 other countries of which Elizabeth II is head of state, as well as the other nations in the Commonwealth, including Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

  • The News Wasn't 'Official' Until Buckingham Palace Pinned A Literal Note To The Palace Gates

    After the queen's secretary and the prime minister were alerted, and the information was spread to the other Commonwealth countries, it was time for the public to be told that their monarch is dead. The news wasn't considered official until a note was pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace. 

    A footman dressed in mourning gear completed the task, and only then could the online part of "London Bridge" begin. The palace website changed to a single black page with only the news of the queen's death. The Press Association was notified, and the statement was published online and in print all over the world. 

  • The Codename For The Plans For The Queen's Death Had Been A Secret For Years

    The protocol surrounding a monarch's death has always been discussed using code names. George VI's death was "Hyde Park Corner," and the Queen Mother's funeral plans were "Operation Tay Bridge." The codename for Queen Elizabeth II's death remained top secret until recent years.

    The codename is believed to be "London Bridge." The phrase "London Bridge is down" was used to convey the news of her passing.