AP 360’s role in global event coverage: The death and State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

Posted 2 months ago ~12 min read
Broadcast servicesCoronationCulturalInternational eventsLarge eventsLive event productionPoliticalState funeralUK royalty
Military personnel in red ceremonial uniforms carrying a coffin adorned with flowers and a crown at the state funeral of queen elizabeth ii

~12 min read

In global event coverage, few moments demand as much planning, precision, foresight and expertise as the state funeral of a monarch. The Associated Press (AP) is the sole global news agency member of the U.K.’s Foreign Broadcaster Service (FBS). The London-based FBS was formed over 20 years ago in response to an urgent need for a more organized approach to international news coverage of British events of monumental importance. It was a turning point in the handling and broadcasting of high-stakes events, such as the passing of a senior royal.

Man wearing a suit and black tie standing in front of westminster abbey and facing a man operating a video camera while broadcasting live at the state funeral of queen elizabeth ii

The AP’s FBS membership allows international broadcasters to work with us as a dependable source, rather than having to negotiate the intricacies of the palace or government communications. In addition to relieving the palace of some of its burden, the streamlined formula helps keep things in a controlled manner.

Planning for a state funeral

Such events included the death in September 2022 of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the subsequent official mourning period and her State Funeral. Billions of people across the globe tuned in to witness the funeral, making it one of the most watched television events of all time. As a 13-day operation from start to finish, it was one of the largest ever undertakings that AP 360 has worked on.

Numerous international broadcasters sent television crews to the U.K. to report on the event for audiences across the world, so it was essential that AP 360’s facilities support operation went to plan.

For all to proceed smoothly, extensive planning was required. And from the day FBS was formed back in 1999, the AP acted as a key intermediary and stakeholder to communicate and negotiate essential operational requirements.

The meticulous planning and organizational acumen of AP 360 were never more crucial than in the lead-up to the state funeral. Advanced bookings and scheduling were managed with precision, exemplifying how our event management and live broadcast services can operate seamlessly under pressure, ensuring a cohesive and orderly presentation to the world.

Proactive client engagement and planning

Recognizing the importance of advance planning, AP 360 engaged with clients years ahead of the event to secure key timings and to accommodate key goals and objectives. With slots quickly becoming fully booked, it was crucial to prioritize international client requests, ensuring they received the attention and space necessary for their coverage. Our established relationship with Buckingham Palace and the AP’s enduring reputation for journalistic excellence underscored the urgency and delicacy required in these preparations.

Woman dressed in black standing in front of buckingham palace looks into a video camera while broadcasting live at the state funeral of queen elizabeth ii

We urged clients to approach their event planning with diligence and clarity, allowing us to meet their specific needs without compromise. This proactive stance on planning and communication was not just about logistical necessity; it was about upholding the integrity and significance of the coverage, ensuring that every broadcaster could tell the story with the depth and respect it warranted.

Coordinating across continents: managing over 60 clients

We were well-prepared for any eventuality due to the twenty years of planning in conjunction with the FBS, but there were many micro and macro changes, such as shifts in government policy and the speed of technological advancement, so we had to be flexible.

Many potential outcomes were considered throughout the planning process. These included, but were not limited to, scheduling, accessibility requirements and whether the passing of the monarch and her funeral would take place in the summer or winter. The complexities also meant having to manage existing bookings placed with us by broadcasters years in advance, and those requests made right up to the day the main event took place. Having catered to pre-planned bookings and reactive placements, we serviced and communicated to over 60 clients by the end of the 13-day event.

Client needs over the course of the operation would most certainly vary according to schedules and budgets, and we would need to be flexible in order to accommodate the event’s potential winter or summer dates. We aimed to be operational within two to three hours of the official announcement of the death of the queen and to accommodate the events following her passing. This meant that we knew which broadcasters needed to go on air, back-to-back, at the precise times at which each needed to hit their scheduled news bulletins. The investment in such detailed planning also required the agility to navigate and react to any changes or additions to the initial plan.

In the run up to such high-stakes events, AP 360 is well equipped to handle a high volume of broadcasters and our client booking teams took care of the varied and numerous needs of our clients.

“The planning stages of the event required focus and precision; we were dealing with client bookings from all over the globe, for a circa 10-day event that could start on any day of the week and had to account for differences in winter and summer timings. When the event occurred, there was a balance to be struck between ensuring pre-existing requests were all in place before offering new slots to other clients. We had hundreds of bookings to manage and confirm while simultaneously dealing with a similar number of new requests via email. It was a mission, yet we successfully arranged delivery of live signals to all our clients via a variety of fiber and satellite routings, ensuring each transmission went smoothly through close liaison with our technical staff.”

Samia Zuberi,
Resource and Production Desk Supervisor.

Safety, security and confidentiality: upholding the integrity of high-stakes events

The complexity and sensitivity of orchestrating coverage for events of monumental significance, such as a State Funeral, demanded unparalleled attention to safety, security and confidentiality. Our operational framework is built on a foundation of trust and precision, ensuring that every detail is meticulously planned and protected, aligning with the stringent requirements set forth by key stakeholders, including the palace, the police and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The official schedule of events that followed the death of the monarch was planned down to the minute and required an exceptional level of precision. Scheduling was critical to cover pivotal moments, such as the procession of the casket or Lying-in-State, under the strictest confidentiality. Membership rules within the FBS mandated that some of these crucial details were kept confidential, though key dates were effectively communicated and managed for the benefit of all broadcasters. This delicate balance ensured that coverage was comprehensive yet respectful of the monarch, the palace and the country.

Such an example was on the eve of the State Funeral, where access was made much more stringent and less porous. An email alert group and notification system was put in place for broadcasters, where AP 360 was able to send updates over the course of the event on any logistical or editorial updates. The key ones were changes to security with hours of notice on the day of the funeral, where it was necessary for broadcasters to arrive much earlier than anticipated at the Westminster Abbey location. This alert system was used to keep people abreast of all the changes and to be able to respond and react as necessary.

AP 360’s communication protocols are a top priority, and our clients rely on us to be the conduit for critical information in a safe, secure and reliable manner.

Managing access and accreditation

One of our significant challenges was managing access for the numerous broadcasters and their teams, a task that involved coordinating closely with DCMS. With lists spanning hundreds of individuals requiring accreditation, including sensitive information such as up-to-date passport details and photographs, our commitment to safety and security was paramount. This information was safeguarded within our secure planning systems, ensuring both the safekeeping of personal data and the security of the event itself. Overall, 1600 accreditations were managed.

With many world leaders expected to gather in one place at the same time, the AP was responsible and accountable to ensure the strictest adherence to security protocols. Ensuring the safety and security of all attendees, along with the assurance of access for broadcasters, necessitated stringent security checks throughout the event, as well as properly planned processes and deadlines that were followed and adhered to.

The intricacies were extremely complex, as the event spawned off many operational aspects to be managed – it wasn’t just being able to grant individual and secure access to the event itself, but other logistical aspects included vehicular and equipment access at certain locations.

“It’s of paramount importance to ensure that all news teams we support are accurately and promptly placed at the right location and at the right time so that they can report live into the bulletins of our international broadcast partners. While this was undoubtedly a challenge in the case of the passing of the queen, AP 360 handled this matter with the honesty, diligence and expertise necessary to guarantee a seamless operation. It was a project in itself to manage the access and accreditation side of the event, with thousands of people potentially needing access, not to mention technical aspects of their broadcasts. And there were many last-minute changes. But it was all managed exceptionally well, which is one of the main reasons clients choose to work with AP 360.”

Toby Goode,
Business Development Manager, EMEA.

Exclusive access and frontline reporting

As the intermediary, AP 360 ensured that coverage was not just a matter of presence but of prominence, offering front row positions and frontline access to capture the solemnity and significance of the occasion.

The advantage of partnering with AP 360 is clear: exclusive access to on-location services. This pivotal role meant that broadcasters could deliver live, compelling narratives from the heart of the event, ensuring that audiences around the globe received an immersive viewing experience.

The locations were key on the day the monarch’s coffin was carried in procession ahead of the Lying-in-State and on the day of the funeral and burial, from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

Without being an FBS member, it wouldn’t be possible to access these locations – and this provides a significant advantage to foreign broadcasters who work with AP 360.

Global reach, local insight: AP 360’s expansive international network

With first-hand knowledge of event management and a “story of the century” designation for the passing of the monarch, numerous international broadcasters had a huge stake in the historic occurrence and relied on AP 360 for their coverage.

One of the many benefits of having a global network is the ability to respond to needs at any hour of the day or night. Our international bureaus, crew management resources, editorial desks, technology specialists, administrative assistants and booking crews can be located anywhere in the world, helping us out 24 hours a day.

People standing on a platform with camera equipment in front of westminster abbey during live broadcasting at the state funeral of queen elizabeth ii

AP 360 was able to meet many clients’ unique requirements, ranging from logistical to technological. Even with preparation, it was necessary to have a tailor-made solution that could react quickly and flexibly to any unanticipated parts of the event. No matter how well prepared one is (even with 20 years of planning), AP 360 encountered many hurdles and challenges on each day of the operation. However, any unknowns were resolved with contingency efforts and the collaborative response of our experienced teams across the AP network.

“Despite the numerous aspects that needed to be handled in this large-scale event, due to our experience and years of planning, everyone knew exactly what they were doing, knew who to call, jumped into action, and it kicked into gear very well.  Rehearsals were executed, and there was a very high level of preparedness. We made it happen, no matter what.”

Julian Jones,
Head of Resources and Bookings Desk.

Broadcast technology infrastructure and connectivity

Given the rapid pace of technological advancement over the years, the technical framework and its execution constituted a significant role. Since the AP ensured dependable connectivity across all mediums (phone lines, electricity, satellite, fibre, etc.), agility was essential for all broadcasters. If there were any changes, we would also have to communicate this to all 60+ clients.

Providing this service meant we could ensure coherence and technological accessibility amongst all broadcasters. AP 360 has spearheaded advancements in broadcast technology and a global reach in delivering signals, continuously elevating the standard for live event coverage. This commitment to innovation meant that, by the time of the state funeral, AP 360 was equipped with the most advanced technological infrastructure, enabling superior quality broadcasts and wide-reaching distribution.

Reliable live event and broadcast coverage

With the access and services provided by AP 360, clients are able to consistently deliver live content, in addition to receiving expert project management, attention-to-detail and high-quality customer service.

The succession of set-piece events following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, culminating in the state funeral, exemplified the critical role of AP 360 and the FBS in modern journalism. By offering unparalleled access, advanced planning, and the latest technology, AP 360 continues to lead the way in broadcast services and live event coverage worldwide.

Keep up-to-date for all major events here

Create, captivate and communicate with AP 360 today

Contact us