Operation: London Bridge

Cezza Cardaropoli, Reporter

Whether we like it or not, we are all the witnesses of a fascinating historical event. On September 8, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II passed away in her home at the mature age of 96. While she may have passed from normal causes, her legacy left behind will forever be incomparable. The monarchy will remain standing, but her majesty has fallen. 

The modern British monarchy began in the early to mid 1600s with a longing for traditional, national identity, and to formally announce their pride. Something that started for publicity and elegance transformed into Britain’s second longest reign of honor, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1952. Fast forward nearly 71 years later, the queen has managed to live through the Vietnam War, the Space Race, World War II, the Holocaust, and Chernobyl, just to name a few. She had made appearances at several other political events throughout her time, but it swiftly came to a halt. Only a few short days before her passing, she attended the appointment of Britain’s new prime minister, making it her final public image. About a week prior to this, she claimed to have missed a separate event, again, due to her health. 

When the general public is aware about the Queen’s medical conditions, it can typically be taken very seriously. Usually, immediate family and other members of the royal household are the only people to know how the Queen is doing. This is for many reasons, mainly because they don’t want the plan for what comes next to be another rumor that spreads. The plan for the days to follow the death of anyone in the monarchy has been in place for years. It puts the royals’ doctor in charge of what we now know as “Operation London Bridge”. This secret, government-wide plan took place during the ten days between Elizabeth II’s death and her funeral. As previously stated, it is rare for people other than other members of the monarchy to be aware of Queen Elizabeth’s well being. With that being said, the royal household was the first to know about her death. Within the hour of her actual passing, the Queen’s private secretary was the first to hear from the doctor, the code being “London Bridge has fallen”. Once news got to the royal family, Britain’s Prime Minister and the cabinet secretary were next in line. The two then passed the information to the leaders of surrounding counties, assuming they’d like to have a statement prepared. When leaders are informed, they are also told that if they make a public announcement about the Queen, discretion is required. However, Britain’s Prime Minister had to be the first to speak about it, other government officials told not to until after she had done so. Lastly, a nation-wide minute of silence was held at 8 pm on September 9, the day after she passed. 

Picture courtesy of Outlook India

The days from then until Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral consisted of traditional elements that are to occur for the death of anyone in the monarchy, the so-called “D-Days”. On September 10th, or D-Day+1, King Charles III was declared the new sovereign, making him the 62nd monarch. The D-Days leading up to D-Day+10 consisted of civil condolences and regular greetings for the new King: The Queen’s coffin was delivered back to Buckingham Palace while Charles attended services in Edinburgh, Belfast, and Westminster Hall. Soon after, a rehearsal for the funeral was held in Westminster Abbey, where the actual procession will soon be taking place. Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers gave their stamp of approval for a three day long period of national mourning that lasted from September 18-20th. All of this was in preparation for D-Day+10 on September 19, 2022 when Westminster Abbey held the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The procession spanned over 28 miles long, from London to Windsor, in order to pass the Buckingham Palace, but still avoiding major rotaries and traffic. The casket was then brought to the King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor as her final resting place. As the funeral came to a stop, ending her momentous reign, Britain still had a final day of mourning to go. 

Even though Queen Elizabeth II lived thousands of miles away, her role played some sort of impact on the entire world. Social media blew up worldwide as people to this day are not yet over this, even some of the students here at West Springfield High School. From grade 12, Alexus Delgado says, “I was confused– she’s lived for so long that for some reason I thought that she was immune to everything, like invincible. It’s strange to think that she’s been alive all the time that we have been.” Another senior, Alberto Garay, notes, “This is such a loss. Everyone in England, they’re going through so much right now, all I can do is just send them my condolences.” A similar response was gathered from other students, being faced with confusion or just indifferent about it. Nevertheless, people will always miss the Queen, but there is still some excitement for the reign of King Charles III.