News travelling from across the Atlantic — or just cyberspace — has it that yesterday evening, Elizabeth II of Great Britain died peacefully at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. She was 96.
You probably didn’t know this, but her private secretary called the Prime Minister the minute she passed, with the coded message, “The London bridge is down,” setting off a chain of events officially known as “Operation
London Bridge Unicorn” (since she died in Scotland).
We know The King and The Queen Consort were called to her death bed, stayed overnight and returned to London today. Here’s everything else that’ll happen now that the longest reigning sovereign of our ex-colonisers is dead.
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The Prime Minister alerts the commonwealth
Right after receiving the code from Queen Lizzie’s secretary, PM Lizzie called the government of the 15 non-UK countries ruled by the British monarchy, to inform them of her death. Then she called the 36 commonwealth countries, including Nigeria — which means Buhari knew about her death early and didn’t tell us.
Buckingham Palace posts an announcement
A letter with the news of the queen’s passing is placed at the main gates of Buckingham Palace. A press release is also sent to the British media who’ve prepared years ahead to spread the news in a specific manner [more on this below].
Prince Charles takes over immediately
In Buckingham Palace’s letter, they already referred to him as “The King”. Charles is expected to make his first official speech as king today. The government will swear allegiance to him with a 41-gun salute — 16th-century cannons firing 41 rounds of gunpowder into the air.
The Queen’s children keep her coffin company
The royal family, particularly her children, will hold a vigil around the queen’s coffin in Balmoral. It will be transported via train to Edinburgh, where all except Charles will hold another vigil called the “Vigil of the Princes” at St. Giles’ Cathedral. Then off to Buckingham Palace in London for the official period of mourning.
King Charles goes on his first official tour
He’ll receive the Prime Minister at the palace before taking a tour of the UK, visiting the leaders of each country in their capitals. In the coming weeks, there’ll be ceremonies designed to announce his new identity, powers and authority. These will lead up to his coronation, which could be up to a year away.
British TV pauses usual programming
Until after the royal funeral, the television and radio stations in the UK will only broadcast special programmes and documentaries that’ve been produced in the queen’s honour years ahead. The news presenters and correspondents will all appear on air in black clothes, and BBC’s red logo will be black throughout that period.
Public holiday galore
The British economy will be put on hold on the day of her death, funeral service and on Charles’ coronation. Parliament will be suspended for at least a day. The stock exchange, businesses and shops will close on those days. If we act fast, we can use this opportunity to push the naira above the pounds.
Queen Lizzie gets a state funeral
An honour reserved for monarchs (and Winston Churchill), the queen will get a state funeral, starting with a four-day lying-in-rest four days after her death. The funeral service will take place 10-12 days after her death. And just like her coronation, it’ll be the first of a monarch to be televised.
While 2.5 billion people came out to watch Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, even more are expected to attend what’ll be the biggest funeral of our lifetime. She’ll most likely be buried at St. George’s Chapel, next to her father, King George VI, and husband.
Charles is crowned… eventually
Since the British believe it’ll be in poor taste to crown a monarch soon after the last one died, it could take over a year for King Charles III to actually be anointed and crowned. In keeping with tradition, his coronation is expected to take place in Westminster Abbey, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Queen Lizzie’s image is wiped out
Everything from coins and notes to stamps and passports, in the UK and across the Commonwealth, will be rebranded from the queen’s image to the king’s. New British currency will be printed with the king’s portrait. Even the national anthem will change from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King”. And now, I’m sad.
The new next-in-line
Charles’ first son, Prince William, becomes next in line to the throne. He could also be the new Prince of Wales — the title historically given to the male heir to the British throne — if his father wishes. For now, he has to manage “Duke of Cornwall” in addition to his Duke of Cambridge title. Must be great to be him.
More republics may rise
Nigeria became a republic just three years after gaining independence from our colonisers. But some countries weren’t so quick to shed the weight of a foreign head of state. The death of a monarch who’s ruled for so long spells the end of an era and could push more countries to reclaim their sovereignty.
Operation Unicorn, over and out. Till we meet again, Adieu, Mama Charlie.