by Zoey Birdsong
art by Amelia Connelly
[originally published March 11, 2022]
Elizabeth II (last name unknown) has been queen for 70 years, longer than anyone else in royal history. Her reign has seen the invention of the polio vaccine, the liberation of Nelson Mandela, and the liberation of Britney Spears. She’s served as a stoic leader during wars and times of peace, and a silent one during sex abuse scandals involving her son, Prince Andrew. Due to recent health setbacks and canceled appearances, speculation has begun about whether her term limit is about to expire. The death of the monarch is a big deal in Great Britain, so big that it has a widely accepted code name: Operation London Bridge. Because I’m a fan of intricate plans and find high profile deaths interesting, Operation London Bridge has been a morbid fascination of mine for quite some time.
Operation London Bridge is comprehensive, and specific. It details every aspect of her death, including the order of who will be notified via secure line and contingency plans corresponding to each of her likely places of death. BBC has an alarm from the 1930s that will sound, kicking off media coverage. Many news outlets already have coverage ready to release, and British television stations will be forbidden from playing anything comedic for days. The movement of her body is predetermined, and her funeral is planned for exactly ten days after her death. During the funeral, most businesses will close and the movement of the entire country will come to a halt. Countries usually only enter periods of mourning like this when multiple people die unexpectedly and tragically. Britain is prepared to gracefully orchestrate this state of crisis on a moment’s notice.I won’t bore you with any more details, but I think it’s worth Googling, especially if you love organizational structures.
The whole concept behind Operation London Bridge is undoubtedly over the top, but the internet will have an almost equally predictable response. I don’t doubt that there will be an onslaught of memes celebrating her death followed by condemnation. There always is when a controversial public figure dies, and all of us have been on both sides of this debate at one time or another. I don’t pretend to believe that I won’t enjoy these memes, but my guess is that good old Gen Z will cross some lines. I don’t know where exactly the lines are, but I know they’ll be crossed. Along with memes, I also expect quite a bit of justified critique about the royal family. The monarchy is a symbol of heteronormativity, racism, colonialism, and other things we tend to dislike at Oberlin. When the time comes, it’ll undoubtedly be an opportunity to call all of this out.
Humans have always made a big deal about death, but I think social media and cancel culture have taken that to a new extreme. Death is nature’s way of canceling people. We don’t need to debate about whether the next dead celebrity deserves our respect. They’ll be dead. Our energy would be much better spent talking about how we can build a better future for those that will be here to see it. How can we act today to ensure that the teenagers of tomorrow won’t cancel us on the future equivalent of Instagram? So, as for me, when London Bridge finally falls, I’ll be watching my favorite work of planning come to fruition and leave the internet to tear itself apart.