In the event of the death of a member of the Royal Family, there are strict protocols in place.

There are Royal traditions that must be followed, as well as rules when it comes to the period of mourning.

When Prince Philip died aged 99 on April 9, operation Forth Bridge came into effect.

The details around his funeral arrangements and mourning customers had been in place for years.

Codenamed after the Scottish landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site, the operation has been approved by both the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh after years of development.

Royal family funeral traditions and mourning rules

Planning ahead

All Royal Family members have a plan customised for them while they are still alive to make sure they are content with the arrangements.

These plans are in place for many years to ensure the necessary preparations are done for the large-scale ceremony.

The codename for the Queen’s funeral plans are “London Bridge”, which she has been involved in planning for many years.

For example, Prince Philip wanted a “no fuss” funeral, and Buckingham Palace confirmed it would be “much reduced in scale and with no public access”, in line with Covid restrictions.

Royal funerals are typically divided into three categories – a state funeral, a ceremonial funeral or a private funeral.

Prince Philip’s will be a ceremonial funeral, like Princess Diana’s in 1997.

Notify of death


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After a Royal dies, the media has to be notified.

As the national broadcaster, the BBC is always the first to deliver the sad news to the public.

If the Royal should die overnight, the announcement will reportedly come in at 8am.

Then the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household must consult with the Queen on the Prime Minister’s address to the country.

She has to confirm she is happy with the subject matter and tone.

Official mourning period


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On the Monday following a Royal death the UK enters a period of official mourning.

For Prince Philip this period lasts for eight days, up until and including the funeral, which will take place at 3pm on Saturday, April 17.

All flags must be flown at half-mast, and all newsreaders wear black, and members of Parliament wear black armbands.

Royal Family mourning rules

Like the rest of the country, the Royal Family entered a period of mourning.

For eight days no new laws will be given the Royal Assent, and affairs of state will be put on hold as a sign of respect for Her Majesty’s loss.

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When those eight days have passed the Queen would normally undergo a further 20 days of morning before making a return to her public engagements and duties.

However, the Queen actually already returned to royal duties four days after the death of Prince Philip.

The monarch hosted a ceremony at Windsor to mark the retirement of her household’s most senior official William Peel.

Royal Family dress code


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As soon as the news of a death is confirmed, members of the Royal Family are expected to year either black or dark colours, according to tradition.

Mourning bands are also required to be worn.

When the Royal Family travel abroad for any reason they have to pack a black outfit in case there is a death in the family while they are away.

The Queen and the rest of the family will be dressed in black for Prince Philip’s funeral.

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