In her twilight years, every time Elizabeth II suffered a health setback, Operation London Bridge would surface in the British media only to be parked again. This was the meticulously detailed plan that would be set in motion when the monarch died. In the event, it has had to be combined with the so-called Operation Unicorn, which made provision for the possibility that her death would take place in Scotland as the scope for improvisation in a historic event of global dimensions is minimal. This is the agenda for the next 10 days.
Friday, September 9
King Charles III, 73, and the Queen Consort, Camilla, return to London from Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, where they will have spent the night. This afternoon, the new monarch has his first audience with the new prime minister, Liz Truss. He is also due to meet the Earl Marshal, one of Britain’s Great Officers of State, responsible for organizing the funeral. The death of Elizabeth II occurred on Thursday September 8, which should have been the first day of the planned agenda. But the official announcement came late in the day at 18.31 pm, so the agenda has begun this Friday. At 6 pm Charles III will make a televised address to the nation.
Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her government will attend a memorial service for Elizabeth II at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London.
Saturday, September 10
Although Charles III has been king of the United Kingdom since his mother’s death, he will not take the official oath until Saturday. The Accession Council will meet at 10 am at St. James’s Palace. This council is made up of members of the Privy Council, which includes ministers, judges, and dignitaries of the Church of England. With them as his witness, Charles III will proclaim the independence of the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the 1707 Act of Union.
The proclamation will be met by a 41-gun salute at Hyde Park fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company. Subsequently, fanfare will sound and a Garter King of Arms, a heraldic position that has been in the royal household since 1484, will proclaim Charles king from a balcony at St. James’s Palace. He will not, it is understood, be actually crowned until next year in a scaled-down event that will reflect his vision for a modernized monarchy.
Charles III will have meetings during the course of the day with the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meanwhile, the body of Elizabeth II will continue to rest in one of the central halls of Balmoral Castle.
Sunday, September 11
The coffin of Elizabeth II will be taken to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, where it will be laid out in the Throne Room of Holyrood Palace. There will be official proclamations in the devolved parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Monday, September 12
The body of the Queen will be carried in a procession along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St. Giles Cathedral. A religious service will be held, and the Queen’s four children will lead the so-called “princess vigil” around the coffin. The public will be able to pay their last respects to the monarch.
In London, the House of Commons and the House of Lords will hold an Address of condolence to Charles III after taking an oath to his Majesty, who will then begin a tour of the rest of the nations that make up the United Kingdom with Scotland as his first port of call.
Tuesday, September 13
The Queen’s coffin will arrive at Buckingham Palace in London. It will be placed in the Throne Room, wrapped in the royal standard and crowned with wreaths. Rehearsals will begin for the funeral procession that will take place between Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster.
Wednesday, September 14
Now in the Palace of Westminster, which is also the UK’s seat of Parliament, the body of the Queen will lie in state for a period of five days so that the public can pay their last respects. The crown worn by the monarch during her Coronation ceremony in 1953 will be placed on the coffin.
Monday, September 19
At 10.30 am, the coffin will be transferred by a gun carriage pulled by naval ratings from the north entrance of the Palace of Westminster to the west entrance of Westminster Abbey. Members of the Royal Family will walk the route behind the coffin. Half an hour later, there will be a service for the Queen. A group of bearers will return the coffin to the gun carriage to begin a funeral procession to Wellington Arch. From there the coffin will be taken by hearse to Windsor Castle.
Another service will be held in St. George’s Memorial Chapel and members of the Royal Family will be able to say goodbye to the monarch for the last time in private. The Queen will be buried in the Memorial Chapel and the body of the Queen’s late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, will be moved from the Royal Vault to join her there. Charles III will throw the first handful of earth on the coffin of the longest reigning monarch and most beloved queen in the UK’s history.