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13 Things That Will Happen When Prince Philip Dies

Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, passed away at the age of 99 on April 9, 2021. Here's what happens next.

Queen Elizabeth II opens the new headquarters of New Scotland Yard, London, United Kingdom - 13 Jul 2017
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Operation Forth Bridge

Just as there is a plan in place for precisely what will happen upon the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (Operation London Bridge), Operation Forth Bridge dictates what will happen now that the Queen’s husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has passed. The Duke was been closely involved with the details of the Operation Forth Bridge, just as the Queen has been with Operation London Bridge. The name refers to a suspension bridge linking Edinburgh to Fife. Get a look at some rarely seen photos of Prince Philip.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II

But nothing really happens without a Royal Command

Presumably, the Lord Chamberlain (the Head of the Queen’s household, The Earl Peel), following regular protocol, consulted with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, before seeking the Queen’s specific commands regarding the death announcement and the funeral. No other action would be taken before the death is formally announced by Buckingham Palace. This is why Prince Philip isn’t considered the “king” of England.

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

How and when the news will reach the public

It’s expected that all of this coordination happened, and Buckingham Palace announced Prince Phillip’s passing close to noon on Friday, April 9. Traditionally, the BBC was the first to know of the death of a member of the Royal Family. That is no longer necessarily the case, with the announcement going out as an alert to the Press Association and posted on the official website of the royal family.


We will see pre-recorded news segments

Almost every major news organization have pre-recorded films, articles, and news segments already recorded or written. “The Times is said to have 11 days of coverage set to roll out, while Sky News and ITN, which have been practicing for years substituting the name ‘Mr. Robinson,’ have signed contracts with royal experts who will speak exclusively on their channels,” The Week reports.

Britain Royals Zoo, London, United Kingdom - 20 Mar 2013
oel Ryan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

A national period of mourning will begin

Upon the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) will enter a national period of mourning that will last until the funeral, according to The Greater London Lieutenancy. The national mourning period is to be “observed by all,” including national representatives serving abroad. Don’t miss these 23 rarely seen photos of the royal family throughout the years.

Big Ben's bongs fall silent for up to four years., London, United Kingdom - 21 Aug 2017
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What happens during a national mourning period

During the national mourning period:

  • Flags will be lowered to half-mast, with the exception of the Royal Standard flag, which flies above Buckingham Palace and will not be lowered because it never is (since it represents the monarchy, which is continuous).
  • The ceremonial “mace” will be draped in black or adorned with a black bow.
  • Members of Parliament will wear black armbands (three-and-one-quarter inches wide) on their left arm and, in the case of male members, black ties.
  • Local governments (cities, towns, villages, etc.) will be asked to give “careful thought” to their carrying on of official business.

In addition to the national mourning period, here are some more royal traditions and ceremonies you never knew existed.

Grenfell Tower Memorial Service, St Paul's Cathedral, London, UK - 14 Dec 2017

What we’ll see the royals doing during national mourning

As soon as the death is announced, members of the royal family, royal households, and representatives of the royal family will be required to wear dark colors and mourning bands, which is why they pack such things when traveling. During the national mourning period, all social engagements will be cancelled, but official engagements may be fulfilled. Here are more British royal family travel secrets you never knew.

Remembrance Service, The Cenotaph, London, Britain - 08 Nov 2015
Ray Tang/Shutterstock

The Queen’s mourning period

During the national mourning period, the Queen will most likely not conduct any affairs of state, which, among other things, means no new laws will be passed.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor, United Kingdom - 19 May 2018

The funeral

As the Queen’s Consort, Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral (which involves lying in state in Westminster Hall and burial at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle). But it is believed Prince Philip elected to have a private military style funeral at St. George’s Chapel with burial at Frogmore Gardens, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are interred.

Countess Mountbatten of Burma funeral, St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London, UK - 27 Jun 2017
Rupert Hartley/Shutterstock

Who will attend the funeral?

Based on Prince Philip’s wishes, it is expected that only his family, friends, and heads of state from the Commonwealth countries will attend the funeral service, according to the Independent.

Funeral of The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Derbyshire, Britain - 02 Oct 2014
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Everyone will stand when the royal family enters the funeral

The funeral of Prince Philip will be one of the rare occasions when the royal family attends a private funeral. Traditionally, they only attend state funerals, sending royal representatives to private funerals instead. When the royal family enters the chapel, the entire congregation will rise as they make their way to their seats, according to Debrett’s, a leading expert on British etiquette. These are the funeral etiquette tips everyone should know.

Order of the Garter service, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, UK - 18 Jun 2018

After the funeral

After the funeral of her husband, it is expected that the Queen will resume her royal duties. However, there is no guarantee that she will. After Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, passed in December 1861, Victoria remained in seclusion for years, not even appearing for the opening of Parliament (the Queen is expected to open each session of Parliament). When she did finally appear, she refused to speak (as is customary), leaving that to the Lord Chancellor instead. But we think there are plenty of reasons Queen Elizabeth II will never give up the throne.

Prince Charles visit to the 617 Squadron, Norfolk, UK - 27 Jul 2018

The line of succession won’t change

Since Prince Philip was not in the royal line of succession, it will not be affected by his death. Queen Elizabeth II will remain on the throne until her death, at which time Prince Charles, her eldest son, will ascend to the throne. These are the 16 other things that will happen when Queen Elizabeth dies.


  • The Daily Mail: “Duke of Edinburgh is admitted to London’s King Edward VII hospital after ‘feeling unwell’: Prince Philip, 99, is in ‘good spirits’ as he ‘walks unaided’ into hospital – but his condition is ‘not Covid related’”
  • BBC News: “1964: Forth Road Bridge opened”
  • The Guardian: “‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death”
  • Royal Central: “The Royal Household: The Lord Chamberlain”
  • The Week: “London Bridge is down: what happens when the Queen dies”
  • Greater London Lieutenancy: “Notes for the Guidance of Rep DLs re Borough Observance of Mourning
    Following the Death of a Member of the Royal Family [not including the
  • UK Parliament: “Mace (The)”
  • Royal Central: “5 Things You Didn’t Know About British Royal Funerals”
  • The Independent: “Prince Philip: What happens when the Duke of Edinburgh dies”
  • Debrett’s: “Attending A Funeral”

Lauren Cahn
Lauren has covered knowledge, history, the British royal family, true crime and riddles for Reader's Digest since 2017. Having honed her research and writing skills as an attorney in the 1990s, she became one of HuffPost's first bloggers in the early 2000s, graduated to reporting hyperlocal news in the 2010s, and has been researching and writing news and features for various publications ever since. Aside from Reader's Digest, her work has appeared in Mashed, Tasting Table, Eat This, Not That!, Grown and Flown, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Insider, Business Insider and many others.