Buckingham Palace announced today that Queen Elizabeth II died this afternoon at age 96, after giving word earlier that she had been placed under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s summer estate in the Scottish Highlands. Ahead of the official statement, viewers noticed that newscasters for Britain’s BBC News network had changed into black clothing, which is a standard network practice in the wake of a high-profile death.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, presenter Huw Edwards and the network’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, as well as on-screen sign language interpreters, switched into dark suits and ties as they gave updates on the Queen’s health. Per Britain’s “London Bridge” protocol in the event of a reigning monarch’s death, it is expected that broadcast news anchors broadcasters will have a set of black clothes on stand-by to make the announcement; this was 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 brown top to a black robe. The same dress code goes for other reporters and guests who will appear on the network in the coming days.
(The Royals have a similar practice of keeping black clothing on hand while traveling in case of a sudden high-profile death; Elizabeth herself experienced a scramble to find a suitable outfit when she got word of her father King George VI’s death on February 6, 1952, which some may recall being a plot point for a dramatized Queen Elizabeth II in season 1 of Netflix’s The Crown.)
Plans had already been set into motion when the Palace released its public statement around 1:30 p.m. EST, 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.”
The Queen’s final public appearance took place just two days ago, on Tuesday, when she greeted Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, at Balmoral.