The Royal Family's strict mourning rules have been revealed

The Royal Family adheres to a strict protocol following the death of one of its members

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 07: Queen Elizabeth II records her Christmas message to the Commonwealth, in 3D for the first time, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace on December 7, 2012 in London England. Broadcast on December 25, 2012, the Queen paid tribute in her Christmas speech to Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes for inspiring the nation during a "splendid summer of sport". (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Image credit: John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Royal Family's strict mourning rules and customs have been highlighted following the death of Prince Philip last Friday - and they're not to be broken. 

There is no right way to mourn a loved one – unless you're in the Royal Family. 

The British monarchy has a well-established protocol in place following the death of one of its members, and there's no alternative but to follow it. 

Prince Philip's passing aged 99 on Friday saw the swift implementation of Operation Forth Bridge, which details funeral arrangements and mourning customs. Codenamed after the Scottish landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site, the operation has been approved by both the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh after years of development. 

Like all royal funeral plans, it is verbally encrypted for security reasons. All Royal Family members have a plan customized for them while they are still alive, to ensure they are content with the arrangements and to make the necessary preparations for the large-scale ceremony. 

The first to-do on this plan is to notify the media of the royal death. As the national broadcaster, the BBC is always the first to deliver the sad news to the public. The next step is for the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household to consult with the Queen on the Prime Minister's address to the country, to confirm she is happy with its subject matter and tone. 

On the Monday following the death, the UK enters an official mourning period. In the case of Prince Philip, this period will last eight days. All flags must be flown at half-mast and all newsreaders wear black. With the Queen's duties as head of state suspended, no new laws can be passed. These customs will be observed until after the royal's funeral has ended. 

The rules are slightly different if the Queen dies. The UK's mourning period will last a total of ten days, with all TV presenters expected to wear black attire as a mark of respect. Regular programming will pause and be replaced with obituaries to the late monarch. Big Ben will have its hammer covered by a leather pad so that it emits muffled tones when it rings at 9am. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.