The most important things that will occur when Prince Philip passes away
Just as there is a plan in place for precisely what will happen upon the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (Operation London Bridge), Operation Forth Bridge dictates what will happen when the Queen’s husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, passes. The Duke has been closely involved with the details of the Operation Forth Bridge, just as the Queen has been with Operation London Bridge. The name refers to a suspension bridge linking Edinburgh to Perth; the Queen and the Duke attended the dedication ceremony for the bridge in 1964.
2. We might hear of it before it happens
Customarily, the public is forewarned that a royal is on his or her deathbed via Palace bulletin, as was the case with Queen Victoria and George V, reports The Guardian.
3. But nothing really happens without a Royal Command
At that time, whoever is the Lord Chamberlain (the Head of the Queen’s household; currently, it is The Earl Peel) will consult with the Prime Minister (currently, Boris Johnson) and then seek the Queen’s specific commands regarding the death announcement and the funeral. No other action is taken until the death is formally announced by Buckingham Palace. If the Queen predeceases her husband, then these commands will be made by the reigning sovereign (most likely Prince Charles).
4. How and when the news will reach the public
It’s expected that all of this coordination will happen, and Buckingham Palace will announce Prince Philip’s passing to the media within hours. If death occurs overnight, however, the announcement will come most likely at 8 am. Traditionally, the BBC was the first to know of the death of a member of the Royal Family. That is no longer necessarily the case, with the announcement going out as an alert to the Press Association.
5. We will see pre-recorded news segments
Almost every major news organisation have pre-recorded films, articles and news segments already recorded or written. “The Times is said to have 11 days of coverage set to roll out, while Sky News and ITN, which have been practising for years substituting the name ‘Mr. Robinson,’ have signed contracts with royal experts who will speak exclusively on their channels,” The Week reports.
6. A national period of mourning will begin
Upon the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will enter a national period of mourning that will last until the funeral, according to The Greater London Lieutenancy. The national mourning period is to be “observed by all,” including national representatives serving abroad.
7. What happens during a national mourning period
During the national mourning period:
- Flags will be lowered to half-mast, with the exception of the Royal Standard flag, which flies above Buckingham Palace and will not be lowered because it never is (since it represents the monarchy, which is continuous).
- The ceremonial “mace” will be draped in black or adorned with a black bow.
- Members of Parliament will wear black armbands (8.25cm wide) on their left arm and, in the case of male members, black ties.
- Local governments (cities, towns, villages, etc.) will be asked to give “careful thought” to their carrying on of official business.
As soon as the death is announced, members of the royal family, royal households, and representatives of the royal family will be required to wear dark colours and mourning bands, which is why they pack such things when travelling. During the national mourning period, all social engagements will be cancelled, but official engagements may be fulfilled.
9. The Queen’s mourning period
During the national mourning period, the Queen will most likely not conduct any affairs of state, which, among other things, means no new laws will be passed.
10. The funeral
As the Queen’s Consort, Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral (which involves lying in state in Westminster Hall and burial at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle). But it is believed Prince Philip has elected a private military style funeral at St. George’s Chapel with burial at Frogmore Gardens, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are interred.
11. Who will attend the funeral?
Based on Prince Philip’s wishes, it is expected that only his family, friends, and heads of state from the Commonwealth countries will attend the funeral service, according to the Independent.
12. Everyone will stand when the royal family enters the funeral
The funeral of Prince Philip will be one of the rare occasions when the royal family attends a private funeral. Traditionally, they only attend state funerals, sending royal representatives to private funerals instead. When the royal family enters the chapel, the entire congregation will rise as they make their way to their seats, according to Debrett’s, a leading expert on British etiquette.
13. After the funeral
After the funeral of her husband, it is expected that the Queen will resume her royal duties. However, there is no guarantee that she will. After Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, passed in December 1861, Victoria remained in seclusion for years, not even appearing for the opening of Parliament (the Queen is expected to open each session of Parliament). When she did finally appear, she refused to speak (as is customary), leaving that to the Lord Chancellor instead.
14. The line of succession won’t change
Since Prince Philip was not in the royal line of succession, it will not be affected by his death. Queen Elizabeth II will remain on the throne until her death, at which time Prince Charles, her eldest son, will ascend to the throne.
This article originally appeared on Reader's Digest Australia.
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