Operation Unicorn, What Happened Immediately After The Queen's Death

Daniel Mitchell-Benoit
A UK flag at half mast.
Unsplash | Jack Lucas Smith

Queen Elizabeth II passed away at 96 years old today, leaving Britain and the world in a state of shock.

Though it's terribly upsetting news for those who loved her, the royal family has been preparing for her death for quite some time now, having a set plan titled Operation London Bridge prepared for the moment it happens should it happen in England.

However, she was receiving medical treatment in Balmoral, Scotland, where there was a separate Operation Unicorn when she passed. The differences between the two are slight, so here's a look into what both entail.

Operation Unicorn was rolled out over Operation London Bridge due to the location of her death.

Palace of Holyroodhouse
Unsplash | Diego Allen

As she was in Scotland, an extra step in the proceedings was put in place. First, parliament was immediately suspended to prepare for her state funeral. Then, because she passed in Scotland, her casket will rest temporarily at the Palace of Holyroodhouse before being flown back to London.

Some public ceremonies will take place before she's flown back, though.

St Giles’ Cathedral
Unsplash | Eduardo Madrid

There may also be a ceremonial procession along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh to St Giles’ Cathedral that both members of the royal family and the public can attend.

These are more location semantics than anything. Beyond that, Operation Unicorn is largely the same as Operation London Bridge.

And Operation London Bridge begins with a phone call.

The Queen's private secretary, Sir Edward Young, would have called the Prime Minister, the recently appointed Liz Truss, and said, "London Bridge is Down."

Notifications were then sent to the 15 other governments where the Queen is still head of state, including Jamaica, Australia, and Canada.

Then an alarm was sounded at the BBC.

The BBC webpage.
Unsplash | Siora Photography

The usually-red BBC logo was changed to black and the anchors will be made to change into black clothes (though many already did this earlier in the day). Other media outlets tend to follow suit.

Then comes the actual transition of power.

A UK flag at half mast.
Unsplash | Jack Lucas Smith

Of course, someone needs to fill the Queen's shoes as soon as possible as her role cannot remain empty. Next in line has been Prince Charles, so he will unofficially become king until tomorrow at 11 A.M.

Flags will be lowered to half-mast during this time, then will be raised again tomorrow. Charles is expected to give his first speech as head of state this evening.

Come tomorrow, he will officially become King, meaning Camilla will become Queen.

The two will then go on a tour of the United Kingdom, making stops in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales to attend various services. While they're away, Westminister Hall will prepare for Elizabeth's funeral.

In four days, a procession will take place.

westminister hall
Unsplash | Shane Rounce

It will begin at Buckingham Palace and end at Westminister Hall. Elizabeth will lie in state for four days and then be properly buried nine days from now. There will be an estimated 2000 people invited, but the funeral will be broadcast live.

Elizabeth is expected to be buried next to her late husband, Prince Philip, and her father, King George VI.