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Here’s Why Reporters Changed Into Black Outfits Before Announcing Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

There's a special protocol that was planned for when the event occurred.
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Buckingham Palace announced the tragic news that Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of the British Royal family, had passed away peacefully at the age of 96. But as the world mourns, we often forget about the reporters and news anchors who knew before us, and it turns out, their mourning started with an outfit change.

Ahead of the Palace’s official statement that Her Majesty had passed away, news outlets close to the royal family had been reporting that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, the family’s summer estate in the Scottish Highlands. But before any outlet made the final statement that she had died, newscasters for Britain’s BBC News network had all changed into black outfits.

Presenter Huw Edwards and royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell—and their sign-language interpreters—they had all made the switch to black ensembles, opting for dark suits and ties as they gave the UK updates on the status of the Queen’s health. Naturally, this had viewers concerned that dark news was imminent.

As we know, before Queen Elizabeth II passed away, there were whispers of a protocol called “London Bridge”, which sets out a series of protocols for alerting the public to the news. News anchors and broadcast reporters are expected to have black clothes at the ready, so they can change for the announcement of her death.

Of course, this was proven in the case of when Prince Phillip passed away in April 2021. When the BBC’s Martine Croxall made the official announcement, she had swapped out her brown blouse for a black robe. And this protocol also needs to be followed by other reporters and guests who appear on the network over the next few days.

For the royal family, they too have a similar set of rules in place, with the members all having black clothing on hand while travelling in case a high-profile death occurs while they are away. For Queen Elizabeth II herself, she had to scramble to find a black outfit when her father, King George VI, died in February 1952, while she was away. In fact, fans of The Crown might remember the series covering this exact scenario in season one, when an appropriate dress was brought onto Queen Elizabeth’s private plane for her to change into before she descended onto the tarmac.

As for the black outfits, this clothing choice will likely continue until Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in 10 days time.

As the family, and their chosen news outlets, had known about her passing before the rest of the world was informed, there had already been plans made for when she did pass. This saw the Palace release their official public statement, to join that of the BBC’s, which read: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”

Queen Elizabeth II made her final public appearance merely two days ago, when she met with Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral Castle. May Her Majesty rest in peace.

For more rolling coverage on Queen Elizabeth II’s death, follow the links below:

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