Revealed: The UK security operation planned for Queen Elizabeth’s death

Secret documents show scale of funeral strategy and government anxieties about resources

Queen Elizabeth: plans for the British monarch’s funeral include a black holding page on the royal family’s website. Photograph: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty

The UK government's vast security operation to manage the immediate aftermath of the death of Queen Elizabeth will include official social-media blackouts and a ban on retweets.

The secret documents, codenamed Operation London Bridge and seen by Politico, reveal the scale of the plans for the funeral and British government anxieties about whether the UK has the resources to execute them.

The social-media strategy plays a prominent role, including plans to change the royal family’s website to a black holding page with a short statement confirming the queen’s death, while the website and all government social-media pages will display a black banner. Only urgent content will be published, and retweets will be banned unless cleared by the government’s head of communications.

The documents show plans for Queen Elizabeth’s coffin to be taken on a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster – home of the House of Commons and House of Lords – where it will lie on a raised box known as a catafalque, which will be open to the public for 23 hours a day for three days. Tickets with a time slot will be issued for VIPs.


The state funeral will be held 10 days after her death and heralded as a “day of national mourning”, but it will not be an official bank holiday. If it falls on a weekday it will be left to the discretion of employers to give their staff the day off, and there will be no substitute day off if it falls on a weekend.

While the documents give the fullest picture of the British government’s plans so far, some details have emerged over the years, including that the prime minister will be informed by a civil servant that “London Bridge is down”, while the death will be announced via a newsflash on the PA Media wire.

The emergence of the documents is not thought to reflect any deterioration in the health of the queen, who is 95 years old.

The plans for Operation London Bridge and Operation Spring Tide, which sets out how Prince Charles will accede to the throne, contain granular detail such as the potential for public anger if Downing Street cannot lower its flags to half-mast within 10 minutes of the announcement, as it has no “flag officer”.

The documents also show concerns from the UK foreign office over how to arrange entry for significant numbers of tourists, from the home office on how to handle potential terror alerts, and from the department for transport on overcrowding in London.

Internally, the day will be referred to as "D-day", with each subsequent day leading up to the funeral referred to as "D+1," "D+2" and so on. The UK parliament and the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will adjourn and parliament will be recalled if it is not sitting.

The British ministry of defence will arrange for gun salutes to take place at all saluting stations, and a national two-minute silence will be announced. – Guardian