Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s second-longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday at age 96, prompting the media to begin preparing for Operation London Bridge. That is the official plan, also known as London Bridge Is Down, for what will happen in the UK following her death.
Deadline understands that major news organizations have been in preparation mode for months, since the Queen first showed signs of ill health, with planning meetings at some networks quietly going from monthly to weekly.
Buckingham Palace has never given an on-the-record briefing on next steps following the Queen’s death, but it gives regular off-record briefings to allow the media to plan. Newspapers will have days’ worth of coverage ready to go.
A media rush to Balmoral is now taking place, with flight-tracking apps showing multiple executive jets hired to fly to Aberdeen, the nearest airport to the Queen’s Scottish home.
Major networks will be slightly thrown that the Queen’s death took place in Balmoral, with most recent planning based on the assumption that it would have happened at London’s Buckingham Palace.
All other news coverage will shut down for the foreseeable future across all UK channels, and TV shows will be pulled from schedules likely for days. Broadcasters have been contacting producers this afternoon telling them their shows will likely be pulled and promotional adverts and tweets will cease, one source told Deadline. BBC news journalists and broadcasters almost immediately changed into black clothing, which is believed to be part of Operation London Bridge, a series of protocols that dictate how the Queen’s death is announced and what happens immediately afterward.
On Thursday as news of the Queen’s death was confirmed, the BBC logo changed from its usual red to to black.
Thousands of reporters will fly over from abroad for what has always been predicted would be one of the last major news stories of this TV news era before the digital revolution truly takes hold. All major U.S. networks in particular will be preparing fleets of journalists to head over the pond, and Deadline will update you on those plans separately.
Operation London Bridge will proceed over the coming days.
Preparations for the funeral, which will take place in around a week’s time, according to a Guardian Long Read on London Bridge, will be set over the next few days, and the funeral itself will take place on a hastily-arranged Bank Holiday. Expect wall-to-wall coverage around the world for what is likely to be one of the most-watched broadcasts of all time.
Soon after the funeral, the Queen’s son, Prince Charles, will be coronated as the new King of England, taking his place at Buckingham Palace in another huge televised event.