While the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday prompted many to respond with shock and sadness, British officials have long had plans in place detailing what was to be done when the inevitable came to pass — but a number of those plans changed when instead of London, the queen passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Operation London Bridge was set to launch immediately upon the queen’s death, a date that would from that point on be referred to as “D-Day.” A call was to go out with a simple message announcing that London Bridge had fallen. The cabinet secretary would send out an email to government officials, a draft of which reads: “Dear colleagues, It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.”
All officials were to refrain from speaking about the queen’s death until after the prime minister made an official statement.
The subsequent days between her passing and the funeral would be labeled D+1, D+2, and so on. Those days would be filled with a number of preplanned arrangements detailing when and where the legendary monarch was to lie in state and how long she would spend at each location before moving on to the next. Security and logistics plans had already been laid out.
And while most of the details outlined in Operation London Bridge will still be a part of the plan, several key details — and the plan’s codename — changed because Queen Elizabeth II passed away in Scotland.
Named for Scotland’s national animal, the adjusted plan is called Operation Unicorn — and it will primarily affect the path along which the queen’s casket will travel before reaching her final resting place.
On D+2, the second day following the queen’s death, Operation London Bridge called for her casket to return to Buckingham Palace — but the special provisions in Operation Unicorn dictate that her first stop will be at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Public well-wishers will be allowed to sign a book of condolences at the parliament of Holyrood.
In the days following, her casket will be transported to St. Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile, after which it will travel to Waverly Station. From there, her body will be transported via the Royal Train to London.