What will ACTUALLY happen when the Queen dies
London Bridge falls down, what happens in the weeks that follow?
Yes, yes, we know what will officially happen when the Queen dies thanks to an incredible 2017 piece by Sam Knight in The Guardian. On Whitehall, the event was known until Knight’s piece as “Operation London Bridge”, and civil servants have spent years choreographing every Pomp and every Circumstance.
But pageantry and procedure are only one part of what will be a much bigger cultural moment. So what will actually happen? Just how cursed will The Discourse be? I have asked The Orb, and I can now report back that the following things will happen after the news breaks:
A BBC presenter in a non-news department will be sacked after tweeting a mildly funny joke. The right-wing press will go into overdrive, and it will be repeatedly used as a stick to beat the BBC with.
The tone-police Stasi will be activated on Twitter, with Piers Morgan leading the charge against anyone deemed to be not sufficiently respectful.
A cartoon will go viral on Facebook showing Captain Tom greeting the Queen at the Pearly gates.
Keir Starmer will issue an incredibly bland tribute explaining how much he bloody loves the Queen. The continuity Corbynite wing of the party will spend days attacking “Keith” for supporting an institution that is steeped in imperialism. He didn’t even mention the evils of the British Empire in his eulogy! Outrageous!
The cost of the funeral will be delineated by viral tweets in terms of how many nurses salaries could be paid for instead.
The BBC presenter’s sacking will result in days of meta-cancel culture discourse with the left split over whether to argue that cancel culture doesn’t exist, or contrary to what they were saying before, isn’t actually good.
A half-hearted campaign begins on Facebook to get Vera Lynn singing We’ll Meet Again to Number One in the charts. It won’t work, and Taylor Swift or whoever it is the young people like will still remain on top of the charts. No one will notice because nobody pays attention to the charts anymore.
Someone less famous than the Queen, but ideologically worthier will die at roughly the same time, leading to dozens of performative viral tweets complaining about the scale of the coverage of the Queen with the lack of coverage for the other worthy person.
Paul Burrell will buy himself a new Ultra-HD camera for Zoom.
The BBC will make an embarrassing gaffe as it plays out a long pre-recorded tribute programme to the Queen, and it emerges that one of the talking heads who they asked to speak about the Queen in the past tense has also died since the programme was made.
Somehow combatants in the endless trans discourse will inexplicably link the Queen’s death to the self-ID debate and the resulting shit-storm will trend at the top of Twitter all day.
The Novara kids will tweet for days about how there’s an appetite in the country to finally get rid of the monarchy. Then YouGov will release a poll showing support for the Royal Family at 80%.
A parent will coach their 6 year old kid to cry about the Queen dying, and will then film it and go viral on your parents’ Facebook.
Nigel Farage won’t be invited to any of the official pageantry, but will post a photo of himself saluting his television.
The White House will issue a boilerplate statement paying tribute to the Queen after the news breaks. Later, Joe Biden will be asked about attending the funeral during a gaggle as he boards Marine One. He will attend, but in the moment appears to cast doubt on whether he will. The British Press will have a typically measured reaction to the perceived snub.
Every time a member of the Labour Party tweets something slightly off-message about either the Queen, Charles or the future of the Monarchy, Guido will post about it.
A Buckingham Palace footman will go viral after a photo of him reaching something high up inadvertently reveals that he is wearing socks with Homer Simpson on them.
The YouGov poll showing overwhelming support for the Monarchy will also have a slim plurality of respondents also saying they would prefer to have skipped straight to William.
Meghan Markle’s choice of outfit to the funeral will attract controversy for being slightly different to that of Kate.
The disconnect between traditional broadcasters and digital media will be revealed more clearly than ever. Mainstream TV outlets will activate 24/7 mourning mode until after the funeral, while social media and trending topics reveal that most people are carrying on as normal. Disney+, unencumbered by British cultural eccentricities, will continue to publish new episodes of The Mandalorian. “Grogu” trends above “The Queen” on the day of the funeral.
A viral campaign launches encouraging British people to put a Union Jack in their windows. After picking up some momentum, it is embraced by Boris Johnson who will make a big show of putting his flag in the window of Number 10, despite one already being present on the roof.
The Labour Party will experience a small but statistically significant polling dip in the weeks following the death as Tory MPs and activists try to pin the stench of being “unpatriotic” on the party, based on tweets and comments from activists. Photos of Keir Starmer bowing when meeting the new King for the first time will cause #StarmerOut to trend again.
After being pulled from the schedules for a couple of days, ITV2 will quietly resume airing Love Island. ITV will then face criticism for not telling the participants the news.
An old, low-resolution video of Keir Starmer explaining how he thinks we should abolish the monarchy will do the rounds on social media and will be written up by MailOnline framed around how the video has “re-emerged”.
Football matches will begin with a silence that is observed not just by players, but mascots too.
James Wild, Mark Francois and a cadre of backbench Tory MPs will call for Thailand-style Lèse-majesté laws to be imposed on social media platforms after the Daily Mail reports on how “vile trolls” with 4 followers each have been making off-colour jokes about the Queen’s death.
Brands on Twitter will awkwardly post tribute messages as white text on a black background. Ben & Jerry’s will post a thread about how replacing a woman Head of State with a man is an act of toxic whiteness.
Toby Young’s Free Speech Union will decline to defend the BBC presenter who lost their job after the tweet.
The New York Times will publish an absolutely excruciating piece about how Londoners are reacting to the passing of the Queen, that won’t bear any resemblance to the reactions of any of the actual Londoners you’ve ever met.
The Union Jack in windows campaign will, of course, relaunch the flag discourse to the detriment of Labour Party harmony.
A few weeks later the New Statesman will splash with “CHARLES THE LAST?”, a piece exploring alternative systems to Monarchy. The same week, The Spectator’s splash will be “God Save The Monarchy!”, a piece arguing that the institution is a vital source of continuity in a changing world. No one will change their mind after reading either piece.
I will repeatedly and annoyingly retweet this post if any of these predictions are anywhere close to being correct.
And… that’s all The Orb will tell me. Let me know your predictions in the comments, and do subscribe to my Substack for More Of This Sort Of Thing.
If you enjoyed this, please follow me on Twitter @Psythor. Special thanks to my pal Blakeley Nixon, as this is something we’ve inexplicably repeatedly discussed over the years, so some of the ideas here are probably stolen from him.