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Operation Forth Bridge: What’s expected following Prince Philip’s death


By Jennifer McShane
17th Apr 2021
Operation Forth Bridge: What’s expected following Prince Philip’s death

The Duke of Edinburgh died at 99 eight days ago. There is a protocol to follow when someone in the royal family dies, with each senior member given their own codename, which is always a bridge, to describe the respective procedures. Here is what will happen in respective of Prince Phillip's death.

The Duke of Edinburgh was married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years and became the longest-serving consort in British history over that time.

Whenever a royal dies, it’s quite complicated; the United Kingdom enters a period of mourning with a number of formalities to be followed. Various procedures will take place as part of this, including all union flags being lowered to half-mast on royal buildings where the Queen is not in residence.

What happens now?

Instead of being placed in Westminster Hall, his body lay in St James’s Palace where Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid for several days after her death in 1997.

Mourning Period

No public viewings are expected. The Queen will enter a mourning period where public appearances are cancelled for what is expected to be an eight-day mourning period (though she may not make a public appearance for at least 30 days after this, when royal duties will resume). No laws would be made during that period.

There are two different types of mourning: Family Mourning and Royal Mourning.

The former is undertaken by the royal family and also their households while the latter includes the royal family, their households and the Queen’s representatives in the UK. It is longer than Family Mourning and also means that black-edged writing paper is used. The Queen will decide which type of mourning will be undertaken.

Other protocols

Other protocols include what to do with flags, books of condolence and making of public proclamations.

Areas, where flowers can be laid, are listed out in the protocols.

There will be holding pages rolled out on websites, and links to how people can find condolence books, church services, flowers and flying of flags.

Across the United Kingdom, in Gibraltar and on Her Majesty’s Ships at sea, a Gun Salute was fired at noon on Saturday to mark The Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

In this, 41 rounds were fired at one round every minute for 40 minutes. In London, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery used the same guns that were fired for The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Wedding in 1947, and at The Queen’s Coronation in 1953. The Curfew Tower Bell at Windsor Castle was tolled 99 times at midday last Saturday, once for each year of The Duke’s life and Westminster Abbey’s tenor bell tolled 99 times lat weekend also.

The funeral

The royal ceremonial funeral took place today, Saturday, April 17th, inside St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle – previously the site of happier occasions, including the royal weddings of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

Queen Elizabeth emerged from Windsor Castle to lead the British royal family in mourning at the funeral of her husband; it was the first time the monarch, grieving for her companion of 73 years, has been officially seen in public since Philip died eight days ago.

Covid-19 regulations have reduced the scope of the service with public elements cancelled, mourners reduced from around 800 to just 30, and all guests wearing face masks and sitting apart.

The 50-minute service followed precise instructions left by The Duke.