When the news breaks, these lights will start flashing, to alert DJs to switch to the news in the next few minutes and to play inoffensive music in the meantime. Every station, down to hospital radio, has prepared music lists made up of mood 2 (sad) or mood 1 (saddest) songs to reach for in times of sudden mourning. If you ever hear haunted Dancehall (Nursery remix) by sabres of Paradise on daytime radio 1, turn the tv on, wrote Chris Price, a bbc radio producer, for the huffington Post in 2011. Something terrible has just happened. Having plans in place for the death of leading royals is a practice that makes some journalists uncomfortable. There is one story which is deemed to be so much more important than others, one former Today programme producer complained.
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Rats, which vintage is also sometimes referred to as royal about to snuff it, is a near mythical part of the intricate architecture of ritual and rehearsals for the death of major royal personalities that the bbc has maintained since the 1930s. Most staff have only ever seen it work in tests; many have never seen it work at all. Whenever there is a strange noise in the newsroom, someone always asks, Is that the rats? Because we dont know what it sounds like, one regional reporter told. All news organisations will scramble to get films on air and obituaries online. At the guardian, the deputy editor has a list of prepared stories pinned to his wall. The times is said to have 11 days of coverage ready. At sky news and itn, which for years rehearsed the death of the queen substituting the name Mrs Robinson, calls will go out to royal experts who have already signed contracts to speak exclusively on those channels. I am going to be sitting outside the doors of the Abbey on a hugely enlarged trestle table commentating to 300 million Americans about this, one told. For people stuck in traffic, or with heart fm on in the background, there will only be the subtlest of indications, at first, that something is going. Britains commercial radio stations have a network of blue obit lights, which is tested once a week and supposed to light up in the event of a national catastrophe.
On 6 February 1952, george vi was found by his valet at Sandringham.30am. The bbc did not broadcast the news until.15am, almost four hours later. When Princess diana died at 4am local time at the pitié-salpêtrière hospital in Paris on, journalists accompanying the former foreign secretary, robin cook, on a visit to the Philippines knew within 15 minutes. For many years the bbc was told about royal deaths first, but its monopoly on broadcasting to the empire has gone now. When the queen dies, the announcement will go out as a newsflash to the Press Association and the rest of the worlds media simultaneously. At the same instant, a footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace, cross the dull pink gravel and pin a black-edged notice to the gates. While he does this, the palace resumes website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background. There will be tweets. At the bbc, the radio alert transmission system (Rats will be activated a cold war-era alarm designed to withstand an attack on the nations infrastructure.
For Elizabeth ii, the plan for what happens next is known as London Bridge. The prime minister will be woken, if she is not already awake, and civil servants will say london Bridge is down on secure lines. From the foreign Offices Global Response centre, at an undisclosed location in the capital, the news will go out to the 15 governments outside the uk where the queen is also the head of state, and the 36 other nations of the commonwealth for whom. For a time, she will be gone without our knowing. The information will travel like the compressional wave ahead of an earthquake, detectable only by special equipment. Governors general, ambassadors and prime ministers will learn first. Cupboards will be opened in search of black armbands, three-and-a-quarter inches wide, to be worn on the left arm. The rest of us will find out more quickly than before.
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Her family and plan doctors will be there. When the queen Mother passed away on the afternoon of Easter Saturday, in 2002, at the royal Lodge in Windsor, she had time to telephone friends to say goodbye, and to give away some of her horses. In these last hours, the queens senior doctor, a gastroenterologist named Professor Huw Thomas, will be in charge. He will look after his patient, control access to her room and consider what information should be made public. The bond between sovereign and subjects is a strange and mostly unknowable thing. A nations life becomes a persons, and then the string must break. There will be bulletins from the palace not many, but enough.
The queen is suffering from great physical prostration, accompanied by symptoms which cause much anxiety, announced Sir James reid, queen Victorias physician, essay two days before her death in 1901. The kings life is moving peacefully towards its close, was the final notice issued by george Vs doctor, lord Dawson,.30pm on the night of Not long afterwards, dawson injected the king with 750mg of morphine and a gram of cocaine enough to kill. Her eyes will be closed and Charles will be king. His siblings will kiss his hands. The first official to deal with the news will be sir Christopher geidt, the queens private secretary, a former diplomat who was given a second knighthood in 2014, in part for planning her succession. Geidt will contact the prime minister. The last time a british monarch died, 65 years ago, the demise of george vi was conveyed in a code word, hyde park corner, to buckingham Palace, to prevent switchboard operators from finding out.
Cecil, himself, thought they were lovers as late as 1572 or 14 years after Elizabeth ascended the throne. In the early years of her reign, it was remarked in letters by ambassadors and other unofficial communications that they were very physicalshe, touching him (she tickled his neck when he knelt to be made a garter knight) and he, having access to her chamber. When they were young, they had adjoining chambers. If you have read much of this queens reign, you know that she was shrewd and a good judge of men. Would she have kept Dudley so close if he were an idiot?
She put him on her council. She twice named him head of her armies and even contemplated naming him Captain-General of England, which would have put him second in command of the realm. Cecil talked her out. Early in her reign when she thought she was dying of smallpox, she named Dudley protector and demanded that her council give him twenty thousand pounds a year (an unheard of sum). England was her most precious possession; she refused to ever name an heir in her lifetime. Would she have left her realm, her most precious posession to someone she thought unworthy? One of my greatest pleasures in writing about them is to imagine them in their castles and riding madly through the countryside all those years, always together yet forever apart. By jeane westin, author of, the virgins daughters: In the court of Elizabeth. In the plans that exist for the death of the queen and there are many versions, held by buckingham Palace, the government and the bbc most envisage that she will die after a short illness.
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Perhaps she was afraid write of childbirth, which killed many women. Most of all, she liked to play the marriage game keeping half of Europe guessing and her country free from attacks while there was a possibility of acquiring England without bloodshed or expense. The first question asked of any writer of Elizabeth and Dudley: Did they have a consumated love affair or was she truly a virgin? One answer could be that the the definition of virgin has changed over the centuries. In Tudor times it meant a maid, in other words an unmarried woman. Another answer: Elizabeth willed herself to be a virgin and that was that! No one will ever know for sure, which is a good thing for writers who want to weave a tale.
Any number of theories about Amys death have come down. I even found an accusation men against William Cecil, Elizabeths Secretary of State. Could he have had Amy killed in order to implicate dudley, since cecil feared Elizabeth would marry him instead of a foreign prince? Ill leave that one to the conspiracy theorists. As for Robert Dudley, his love for Elizabeth survived his two marriages and many affairs, remaining the one constant and supremely important love of his life. There are numerous guesses about why Elizabeth never married. Marriage put a wife in Tudor times under her husbands total control. Her fathers marriages taught her well. Besides, Elizabeth liked to rule.
that would put the queen forever beyond his reach, it was a murdera murder in which she, too, would obviously be implicated. Amy had advanced breast cancer when she fell down two short flights of stairs at Cumnor Manor in 1560 and broke her neck. Modern medicine tells us that cancer can cause brittle bones. It would take a very short fall by a woman in great pain to break a fragile neck. She could also have committed suicide, but the possibility of that was immediately hushed because it meant that she could not be buried in consecrated ground. Two juries judged Amys death was caused by misadventure, in modern meaning an accident, but many Englishmen never accepted that judgment.
But is that all? Was there another page to the letter that Elizabeth could not allow to survive? Did she night carry a romantic secret to her grave, a secret that answers one of the continuing puzzles of her life? Elizabeth, the iconic Virgin queen, Gloriana, good queen Bess, diana the huntress and all the other grand titles she was known by, was obviously and forever in love with Robert Dudley, her Sweet Robin. For thirty years she could not allow him to leave her side without great pain, their love outlasting her endless flirtations with other courtiers and on-going marriage negotiations with most of the foreign princes of Europe. Yet, robert was so unpopular with many jealous courtiers and much of the English population that for several centuries after his death he was treated by historians as a greedy, not too bright failure with little to recommend him but his looks and ability. In his lifetime many believed he murdered his first wife, amy robsart he was also suspected of poisoning every man who opposed him and who died suddenly. The death of Amy robsart by william Frederick yeames. We know better today.
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This page has been written exclusively for The Elizabeth Files by novelist jeane westin, writer. The virgins daughters: In the court of Elizabeth. Thank you so much, jeane, for giving us word this insight into the relationship between Elizabeth and her Robin. Bess and her Robins love story is a tangled puzzle, one which ive attempted to unravel in years of research and two novels. In the first, The virgins daughters:In the court of Elizabeth i, nal, august, 2009, ive viewed their lives through the eyes of two of Elizabeths ladies-of-the-bedchamber. In the novel Im currently writing, his Last Letter: Elizabeth i and the earl of leicester, nal, august 2010, i write from their viewpoints, getting inside their hearts. Robins last letter to Elizabeth survives. He says her medicine has made him feel better and he kisses her foot.