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Operation London Bridge: What happens after Queen Elizabeth’s death?

Queen Elizabeth II’s death puts into action a detailed plan called "Operation London Bridge," as well as another plan called "Operation Unicorn."

LONDON, UK — The death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 has put into movement a detailed plan for what will happen in the coming days as the U.K and the rest of the world mourns the loss of the monarch.  

While details of the plan have remained a mystery through the queen’s seven decades on the throne, bits and pieces have leaked out in recent years.  

In 2017, The Guardian revealed that what happens after Queen Elizabeth II's death is known as "London Bridge." In 2021, Politico reported that it obtained documents that further laid out the plans and detailed Prince Charles’ accession to the throne – reportedly named Operation Spring Tide.  

However, because the queen died while at her summer home in Scotland, another plan code named Operation Unicorn will be activated, Politico reported in 2021. Under this plan, it's believed that the queen's body will be brought to London by royal train, if possible.

According to The Guardian, a footman in mourning clothes will pin a black-edged notice to the gates outside Buckingham Palace.  

As it did following the death of Prince Philip, the Royal Family’s website will be transformed into a memorial. The Guardian reports it’ll initially feature the same text as the notice on the gates.  

BBC interrupted its scheduled programming to broadcast the announcement on TV and radio stations and played the national anthem, “God Save the Queen.” 

The moment the queen died, Prince Charles became king, according to University College London, under the common law rule that “The king never dies.”   

Charles would be scheduled to make his first address on the evening of his mother’s death, the Guardian reported.  

Documents obtained by Politico explained the queen’s funeral is expected to be held 10 days following her death. The prime minister will be the first member of the government to make a statement, the outlet reported.  

The days that follow the queen’s death will include proclamations, heavily planned TV programming and a four-nation tour by the new king, Politico and The Guardian reported.  

Who is next in line for the throne?  

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles is now Britain’s new king.  

Here is the new order of royal succession after Charles. 

1. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge: first-born child of Charles and Princess Diana. 

2. Prince George: first-born child of William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge 

3. Princess Charlotte: second-born child of William and Catherine.  

4. Prince Louis: third-born child of William and Catherine. Until a few years ago, Louis would have been ahead of Charlotte because preference was given to male siblings regardless of when they were born. The Succession to the Crown Act, passed in 2013, removed that rule. 

It’s a safe bet that nobody below this point on the list will ever take the throne. William and his three children, his grandchildren and so-on would either have to pass away or abdicate their right to the monarchy. Abdicating the throne has only happened once in history. And once George becomes a father, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will all be ahead of Charlotte in the line of succession. 

5. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex: second-born child of Charles and Diana. Although he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, stepped away from their royal duties in 2020 and moved to the U.S., Harry remains in the line of succession. 

6. Archie: first-born child of Harry and Meghan. 

7. Lilibet “Lili” Diana: second-born child of Harry and Meghan. 

8. Prince Andrew, Duke of York: third child of Queen Elizabeth II. He takes this spot ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, who was born before the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act. 

9. Princess Beatrice: first child of Prince Andrew.  

10. Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi: daughter of Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi 

11. Princess Eugenie: second child of Prince Andrew. 

12. August Philip: son of Princess Eugenie and husband, Jack Brooksbank 

13. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex: fourth child of Queen Elizabeth II 

14. James, Viscount Severn: second child of Prince Edward. Because his older sister was born before the 2013 succession act, he takes this spot. 

15. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor: first child of Prince Edward 

16. Princess Anne, The Princess Royal: second child of Queen Elizabeth II 

17. Peter Phillips: first child of Princess Anne 

18. Savannah Phillips: first child of Peter and Autumn Phillips 

19. Isla Phillips: second child of Peter and Autumn Phillips 

20. Zara Tindall: second child of Princess Anne 

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Saturday, June 17, 2017 file photo, members of Britain's Royal family from left, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Princess Eugenie, Queen Elizabeth II, background Timothy Laurence, Princess Beatrice, Prince Philip, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince William watch a fly past as they appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after attending the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

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