Here's exactly what happens when a member of the British royal family dies. 


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When the sad day comes that a member of the British royal family dies, it should come as no surprise that there is a very specific plan already set in place.

From Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip, there’s strict protocol for how the death of each member of the royal family will be handled.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Queen Elizabeth II

As the longest-reigning living monarch, people have long been preparing for the eventual death of Queen Elizabeth II.

An article published in The Guardian last year broke the news of Operation London Bridge, the top secret plan that will be implemented in the days after the Queen passes away.

The article leaked the (now previously) secret codeword that will be used to inform the first few people of her death – “London Bridge is Down”.

According to The Guardian, the Queen’s private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt will contact the Prime Minister and say the codeword on secure lines.

Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Image: Getty.

The news will then reportedly be sent from the Foreign Office's Global Response Centre to the 15 governments outside of the United Kingdom where the Queen is also the head of state as well as 36 other nations of the Commonwealth.

The formal announcement is also expected to go out as a newsflash to the Press Association and international media simultaneously.

According to The Guardian, many news organisations have been preparing coverage for the Queen's passing for years.

The Times is also said to have 11 days of coverage ready to go.

Prince Philip

After over 22,000 public engagements, Prince Philip retired from public life last year.

Although the 97-year-old is still alive and well, the Duke of Edinburgh's retirement led many to question what may happen if Philip passes away before the Queen.


When the Duke of Edinburgh dies, it's expected the BBC will be the first media organisation to break the news.

If the Queen survives Prince Philip, it is believed she will enter an eight-day period of grief. During this period, the Queen will not fulfil her usual duties.

Watch: Growing up with Prince William and Prince Harry. Post continues after video. 

After this eight-day period of grief, the Queen will continue her duties privately behind closed doors.

Although Prince Philip is entitled to a full-blown state funeral, the Duke himself has already requested a more low-key event.

It's likely Philip's funeral will only include his family, friends and heads of state from Commonwealth countries.

Although many other British royal family members have been buried in St. George's Chapel and Westminster Abbey, Prince Philip has selected Frogmore Gardens on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

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