Ministers rehearse for Queen’s death for first time with secret exercise dubbed ‘Castle Dove’ to prepare for 10 days of national mourning.
Secret plans involving senior Government ministers for what should happen when the Queen dies have undergone a rehearsal.
Downing Street insiders including Scottish secretary David Mundell have been involved in the exercise, codenamed “Castle Dove”, which outlines the procedure for the day after Her Majesty passes away.
That would then be followed by 10 days of national mourning following a statement from the Prime Minister , reports The Sunday Times.
It’s understood the rehearsal, which forms part of a wider plan known as ‘Operation London Bridge’, has not been prompted by any serious current health concerns about Queen Elizabeth II.
Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington chaired Thursday’s meeting which included Home Secretary Sajid Javid and leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, as well as Mundell.
A Whitehall official said: “This is the first time different ministers have come together in one room.
“Previously it has only been officials.”
The exercise happened at the Cabinet Office room – where the Government’s emergency committee Cobra meets. Ministers also reportedly look at plans for a gathering of 600 members of the privy council to rubber-stamp the Queen’s successor.
Robust plans for what should happen in the event of the Queen’s death have been in place since the 1960s.
It is believed it will fall to the Queen’s private secretary to alert the prime minister. The codeword used will be “London Bridge” and civil servants will say “London Bridge is down” on secure lines.
The news will be spread from the Foreign Office to 15 governments outside the UK where the Queen is the head of state, while 36 other nations of the Commonwealth will also be informed.
The public will then be informed via the media.
At Buckingham Palace a footman will pin a black-edged notice to the gates and a notice will be placed on the palace website.
It is understood both houses of parliament will be recalled and work may finish early.
According to reports the Queen’s body would be held in state at Westminster Hall for four days.
Flags would fly at half mast and Prince Charles will be proclaimed king.
Two thousand guests will be invited to the funeral before the Queen’s body is taken by road to Windsor Castle where she will be buried in the royal vault.
The exercise comes days after the 92-year-old monarch missed a service at St Paul’s Cathedral because she was ill.