'London Bridge Is Down': Inside the Death of a Queen

Secret plans for Queen's death start with her doctor, end in 10-day funeral
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2017 4:58 PM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2017 6:30 AM CDT
Radio stations have already picked out their sad-music playlists for when Queen Elizabeth II dies.   (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – One day in the future, the code phrase "London Bridge is down" will be delivered to the prime minister in Britain, and word will have started to leak that the queen is dead. The Guardian has a deep dive into the exhaustive plans and preparations—some of them secret—for the death of Queen Elizabeth. Just how exhaustive? It takes the Guardian more than 8,000 words just to describe them. It's likely the funeral for the queen—who turns 91 in April—will be unlike any Britain has seen in modern history. That's because, as one former BBC head puts it, she's "the only monarch that most of us have ever known." And the Guardian notes Elizabeth represents the British people's "last living link with our former greatness."

Plans for the queen's passing depend on where exactly she dies but include what doctor will be by her side, the wording of the first press releases, what official will handle the news, what guards will stand nearby, and much more. At the same time a note is hung on the gates at Buckingham Palace, the world's media will be notified. British news outlets are uniquely prepared for this: the BBC has a special alarm most employees have never heard, the editor of the Guardian has 11 stories prepared and pinned to the wall, and the Times reportedly has 11 days worth of coverage ready to go. Radio stations have already prepared playlists of sad music. And that's all before the official 10-day funeral gets underway. Read the full story here. (Read more Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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