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Secret Codenames Used When Royals Die



Secret Codenames Used When Royals Die


One of the responsibilities of being a senior member of the Royal Family is to plan your own funeral and the events following your death years in advance.

The Queen and her palace officials have been preparing hers since the 1960s, and meetings are conducted many times a year to revise and rehearse these preparations.

As we mourn Prince Philip’s passing at the age of 99, you may be surprised to hear that each senior member has a code name for when the inevitable happens, and the news must be shared to household members, relatives, and the military before it becomes public knowledge.

Initially, code names for royal deaths were used to prevent news of a royal family member’s death from leaking before the formal announcement. The use of code prevented Buckingham Palace switchboard operators from learning of the news before it became public.

As foreboding as this may appear, the planning is for logistical purposes. When the Queen dies, a staggering number of mourners will gather to honor her remarkable life, and her funeral will be a global event that must be flawlessly executed by a team that includes the government, the Church of England, the British Armed Forces, the Metropolitan Police Service, the Royal Parks, and all 32 London boroughs.

If you’re a fan of The Crown, you’ll be aware with some of the code names used to break the news, which are generally given by a private secretary. We get a dramatized peek of Charles’ near-death experience on a ski slope when an avalanche occurs, and we learn his code name, “Operation Menai Bridge” for the first time, while he’s thought dead, in one episode in season 4.

The incident seen on film is based on a true-life accident that resulted in tragedy. In 1988, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York went skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, with a party of friends. On March 10, the Prince of Wales was with a party that comprised Major Hugh Lindsay, Charles and Patricia Palmer-Tomkinson, a Swiss guide, and a police officer on Gotschnagrat Mountain, which is home to the steepest slopes that are only appropriate for expert skiers and are restricted to the public.  While Prince Charles was able to dodge the cascading mound of snow, Major Lindsay and Patricia Palmer-Tomkinson were buried beneath it. Palmer-Tomkinson was injured in the leg but survived, whilst Major Lindsay was killed. He was a former equerry to the Queen, and he had left behind a pregnant wife whom he had married only a year earlier. According to local sources, Prince Charles was sobbing on the helicopter that took him off the slopes.

Sarah Ferguson, Princess Diana, and Prince Charles on the slopes in Klosters, Switzerland, a day before the fatal avalanche accident, March 9, 1988.

The Prince of Wales’ death codename is Menai Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects the island of Anglesey to mainland Wales.

By the time the Queen Mother died at the age of 101, the arrangements for her – nicknamed Tay Bridge – were 22 years old.

When the Queen dies, Her Majesty’s private secretary (the person who must formally begin the process of relaying the news to all relevant governments and parties) cannot just phone the prime minister and announce, “Queen Elizabeth is dead.” They must communicate in code. In her instance, the funeral will be called “Operation London Bridge,” and her death will be announced as “London Bridge is down.”

While William and Kate do not have funeral code names, they do adopt an alias when they travel on vacation or on royal tours. They’re known as Daphne Clark and Danny Collins, which makes them sound a little more ordinary than a Duke and Duchess.

Despite the fact that they are no longer working members of the Royal Family, Prince Harry and Meghan had code names before they departed: Davina Scott and David Stevens.

Operation Tay Bridge was the covert name for both Princess Diana’s and the Queen Mother’s funeral preparations. Diana’s death was so unexpected that her royal funeral mirrored arrangements already prepared for the Queen Mother’s funeral, implying that Queen Elizabeth’s mother attended a ceremony she knew would be quite similar to her own.

The death of King George VI was codenamed “Hyde Park Corner.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s code name references the Forth Bridge, which is located west of the city center of Edinburgh.

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