Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, is not going to live forever.
Since ascending to the throne in 1952, the monarch has seen 12 Prime Ministers serve Britain, and lived through another 12 US Presidents. She’s now 88. At some point — not for many years yet, we hope — Queen Elizabeth II’s reign will come to an end.
But what happens then?
For at least 12 days — between her passing, the funeral and beyond — Britain will grind to a halt. It’ll cost the British economy billions in lost earnings. The stock markets and banks will close for an indefinite period. And both the funeral and the subsequent coronation will become formal national holidays, each with an estimated economic hit to GDP of between £1.2 and £6 billion, to say nothing of organisational costs.
But to focus on the financial disruption doesn’t begin to describe the sheer magnitude of it. It will be an event unlike anything Britain has ever seen before. There will be trivial disruptions — the BBC will cancel all comedy shows, for example — and jarring cultural changes. Prince Charles may change his name, for instance, and the words of the national anthem will be changed, too.
The deaths of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother both brought on waves of public mourning and hysteria. But the Queen, due to her longevity and fundamental place atop British society, will be on a whole new level above that.
The vast majority of British people have simply never known life without the Queen.
It will be a strange, uncertain time.
The early hours
Much depends on the manner of the Queen’s passing. If it’s expected (from a long illness, say), then detailed plans will have been put in place for handling it and making the announcement. These plans are already being made: Inside Buckingham Palace, arrangements for after the Queen’s passing and the subsequent succession are known as the “Bridge.”But if it’s sudden, unexpected, or even in public — as was the case with Princess Diana’s death in 1997 — then the news will get out immediately, in an unplanned, uncontrolled fashion.
Either way, the majority of staff at the Palace and associated institutions will be immediately sent home. The Royal Court has a staff hotline for distributing news and instructions to employees in the event of occasions like this. (Many of the details in this story were provided to Business Insider by a former staff member of the Palace.)
Assuming the Queen’s passing was expected, the news will spread at first via the main TV channels. All BBC channels will stop their programming and show the BBC1 feed for the announcement. The other independent channels won’t be obligated to interrupt their regular programming. But they almost certainly will.
Read more: uk.businessinsider.com