Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has died at the age of 96, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. Her death brings to a close a reign that spanned seven decades and made her the most recognized woman in the world.
As monarch, the Queen is automatically granted a publicly funded state funeral. Details for the funeral are soon expected to be released by the palace. The Queen died peacefully Thursday afternoon, surrounded by her family at Balmoral Castle, her beloved summer home in the Scottish Highlands. Many of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were at the Balmoral or on their way there, including her son Charles, heir to the throne, the Royal Family announced on its social media accounts.
With the public questioning next steps, past protocols indicate an official 12-day mourning period, including the transport of Queen Elizabeth’s body and two public holidays, one for her funeral and another for King Charles III’s coronation. A detailed plan developed in the early 1960s that specifies the formalities, which has been updated annually and approved by the Queen, also looks at the impact of the monarch’s passing as a grief-stricken Britain is expected to temporarily halt, allowing the ceremonies and mourning processes to take place.
In the immediate aftermath of Elizabeth II’s death, the plan dictates that:
- The Queen’s death will first be communicated by her private secretary. This information will then be passed on to UK Prime Minister Liz Truss.
- Flags will be flown at half-mast within 10 minutes of government officials being told about her death. Gun salutes will take place afterward.
- Any tweets and retweets by government officials must be signed-off by spin doctors first. No one can make a statement until the Prime Minister does.
- A TV announcement will be made by Buckingham Palace. A funeral will then take place 10 days later.
- Her body will lie in state for three days at Westminster Abbey. King Charles III will then tour the country.
Amazingly, the rules stretch even further than that. An “obit light” will go off in all commercial radio stations across the U.K. When this happens, somber music will be played. The BBC will enforce the wearing of black ties amongst all male presenters before an announcement is made.
The network will then briefly show her portraits, accompanied by the national anthem before the news of her death is broken.
TV schedules will be disrupted for days while archive footage and pre-recorded content will likely fill the airwaves. Over the 12-day mourning period, the BBC will be required to pause its comedy programs. Airline pilots will also be required to tell passengers about the Queen’s death while they are mid-flight.
Britain would eventually be compelled to reprint its currency, too, to reflect the new monarch on the throne. Most sporting fixtures will also be canceled out of a mark of respect, but it is unclear how long this will go on, and the day of the funeral will also affect sporting events all over the Commonwealth.