Queen Elizabeth’s health has been a cause of concern over the past few weeks after she missed Christmas church service for the first time in nearly 30 years. With the queen down with a heavy cold, the future of the British monarchy came under the scanner with speculation over what will happen if the 90-year-old leader passes away.
The monarch, after ascending to the throne in 1952, has seen 13 prime ministers serve the country, along with 12 U.S. presidents (Donald Trump would be the 13th), but preparations for what is likely to be the biggest event in recent British history have been routinely made, rehearsed and updated.
In case the queen passes away during the night, reports say an announcement would not be made until 8 a.m. the following morning. Before the announcement, her portrait would be displayed on BBC One with the national anthem playing. All BBC channels are expected to suspend programming to show the BBC One report.
The BBC reportedly keeps black ties and suits ready at all times and carries out rehearsals of such an announcement routinely. When King George VI died in 1952, the BBC stopped all comedy for a set period of mourning after the announcement was made and according to the Daily Mail, the broadcaster plans to do the same in case of the queen’s death, cancelling all comedy until after the funeral.
The funeral — possibly the biggest in the history of Britain, will be an elaborate one with the Queen’s body lying in state at Westminster Hall — just like the Queen Mother’s was when she passed away in 2002 — for public viewing and for the masses to pay their respects. The day before the funeral, male members of the Royal Family will stand guard for a short period in a ceremony known as the Vigil of the Princes.
The funeral will most likely take place 12 days after the queen’s death, according to convention. There is expected to be an outpour of grief as the coffin is transported to Westminster Abbey via gun carriage along a meticulously planned route. Almost 2,000 guests, including heads of state from across the world, are expected to attend the service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Mourners are also expected to leave flowers outside Buckingham Palace, as was the case when Princess Diana died in 1997, with an estimated one million bouquets left.
While Union Jacks will fly at half mast, the Royal Standard will fly at full mast as there is always a living monarch, in this case Prince Charles. The formal coronation, however, will not take place until a mourning period is over.
The country’s economy could face some turbulent times as stock markets and banks will likely close for a set period of time. The London Stock Exchange is likely to close for at least the day of the funeral, costing the economy billions.
Queen Elizabeth may be buried next to her mother Queen Elizabeth and father King George at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle but according to speculation, she may be laid to rest at one of her private residences like Balmoral or Sandringham.