After being hospitalized, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will being “resting at home for another two weeks. Is this how the Palace is managing her impending death?
At 95, Queen Elizabeth is the longest reigning British monarch. Behind the scenes there is a huge plan to deal with her death under the code word LONDON BRIDGE. It will be put in motion with the code phrase LONDON BRIDGE HAS FALLEN.
In these last hours, the Queen’s senior doctor, a gastroenterologist named Professor Huw Thomas, will be in charge. He will look after his patient, control access to her room and consider what information should be made public. The bond between sovereign and subjects is a strange and mostly unknowable thing. A nation’s life becomes a person’s, and then the string must break.
Governors general, ambassadors and prime ministers will learn first.
The Palace staff will wear black arm bands, but not in public.
A footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace, cross the dull pink gravel and pin a black-edged notice to the gates.
The palace website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background.
At the BBC, the “radio alert transmission system” (Rats), will be activated – a cold war-era alarm designed to withstand an attack on the nation’s infrastructure. Rats, which is also sometimes referred to as “royal about to snuff it”, is a near mythical part of the intricate architecture of ritual and rehearsals for the death of major royal personalities that the BBC has maintained since the 1930s.
Every TV and radio station, down to hospital radio, has prepared music lists made up of “Mood 2” (sad) or “Mood 1” (saddest) songs to reach for in times of sudden mourning. Regular programming will be suspended.
When programming resumes it will be only news. The newsreaders will wear black suits and black ties.
Listeners to Radio 4 and Radio 5 live will hear a specific formulation of words, “This is the BBC from London.
On the old boundary of the City of London, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, a red cord will hang across the road.
At 9am, Big Ben will strike. The bell’s hammer will then be covered with a leather pad seven-sixteenths of an inch thick, and it will ring out in muffled tones.