Buckingham Palace announced today that Queen Elizabeth II passed away this afternoon at the age of 96, after announcing earlier that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s summer residence in the Scottish Highlands. Ahead of the official statement, viewers noticed that broadcasters for Britain’s BBC News network had changed into black, a standard network practice after a celebrity death.
Earlier on Thursday, the network’s host Huw Edwards and royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, as well as on-screen sign language interpreters, switched to dark suits and ties. as they update on the Queen’s health. Per Britain’s Protocol “London Bridge” in the event of a reigning monarch’s death, radio news broadcasts will have a black suit standing ready to make the announcement; this is also the case when the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, died in April 2021, and the BBC’s Martine Croxall, who made the announcement, changed from a brown gown to a black one. The dress code is similar for other reporters and guests who will appear online in the coming days.
(The royal family has a similar custom of keeping black clothes on hand when traveling in case of sudden death; Elizabeth herself had a struggle to find a suitable outfit when she received news of the king’s death.) George VI died on February 6, 1952, which some may recall as a plot point for Queen Elizabeth II played in season 1 of Netflix Crown.)
The plans were kicked in when the Palace released a public statement around 1:30 p.m. EST, which read: “The Queen passed away peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and Queen will stay at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow. “
The Queen’s last appearance came just two days ago, on Tuesday, when she welcomed Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, at Balmoral.