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The rehearsal was routine and not related to any specific concerns about the 92-year-old monarch’s health.
Ministers have, for the first time, taken charge of the plans for the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the London Sunday Times has reported.
The politicians led a secret Whitehall exercise last Thursday dubbed ‘Castle Dove,’ to prepare for 10 days of national mourning after she dies.
The meeting was chaired by Theresa May’s deputy, David Lidington. Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, also attended.
Planning for the Queen’s death dates back to 1960. There have been meetings, attended by the actors involved, twice to three times a year to review the plans ever since.
But Thursday was the first time ministers and top civil servants met together, the Sunday Times said.
The rehearsal, although on an “unprecedented scale,” was routine and not related to any specific concerns about the 92-year-old monarch’s health. The Queen, who ascended to the throne when her father died in February 1952, still has a busy diary and last year fitted in 296 engagements. The idea is for nothing to be unforeseen.
The funeral plans in place since the sixties – code named “Operation London Bridge” – anticipate that the Queen will die after a short illness with her private doctor in charge. When her eyes will be closed, Charles will be King.
Her private secretary will advise the Prime Minister that “London Bridge is down” on a secure line to avoid any pre-emptive leak.
The news will be released to the UK Press Association and the rest of the world’s media at the same time.
A Buckingham Place footman in mourning clothes will pin a black-edged notice of her death to the Palace gates.
Wherever the Queen is when she dies, her body will be returned to the throne room at her London home.
The coffin will then be moved to Westminster Hall where she will lie in state for four days pending her funeral service either in Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s.
She will be interred in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where her parents are also buried.
On D + 1, one day after her death, the flags will go back up and at 11 am the Accession Council will confirm the accession of Charles as King.