On September 9th, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Previously, the longest-reigning British monarch was Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. In 2017, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, which commemorates 65 years on the throne.
For many of us, Queen Elizabeth II is the only British monarch we’ve ever known. It’s painful to think about England without her, and yet, the royal palace has been preparing for her death for years. So, what will happen when the queen passes away? Keep reading to find out.
Her Body Must Be Brought To Buckingham Palace
The queen spends most of her time in England in Buckingham Palace, but if she happens to pass while abroad, her body will immediately be returned to the palace in England.
Buckingham Palace is her home and the people of England need to be able to grieve properly. There are procedures in place for getting the queen’s body to the palace should this occur. If she’s in Scotland when she passes away, however, there’s a different plan in place.
If The Queen Passes Away In Scotland…
Queen Elizabeth II spends a quarter of the year during summer break in Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Members of the royal family often visit her there in the summer. Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British royal family since 1852. If Elizabeth passes in Scotland, a Scottish ritual will take place at the royal residence in Edinburgh.
Following the Scottish ceremonies, a train will take the queen’s body back to Buckingham Palace.
The Secret Code
There is a codename for the plan that will be put into action once the queen passes away. The plan is known as “Operation London Bridge.” When the queen passes away, official palace employees will use the phrase “London bridge is down” to let the Commonwealth know that the queen has passed away.
When King George VI died, officials used the phrase “Hyde Park Corner” to let a few key people in on the news. They didn’t want Buckingham Palace switchboard operators to find out what had happened too soon.
How The Media Will Handle It
An announcement of the queen’s death will be sent out as a newsflash to the British Press Association as well as the rest of the world’s media.
Many news outlets already have articles and obituaries ready for when the queen passes. As soon as journalists are informed of the queen’s death, they’ll add some key details into these pre-written articles (such as the time and place of her death) and the articles will be published.
The Next Monarch
Prince Charles will officially become King Charles III on the day immediately following the queen’s passing. Charles won’t have a coronation ceremony for at least another few months, though. Charles’ first official duty as king will be to swear to protect the Church in Scotland.
Then the Queen’s body will be taken to Westminster Hall where it will remain for four days. After those four days, there will be a huge military parade so that all of England can pay their respects.
Camilla Will Likely Be Crowned Queen
It’s no secret that Camilla isn’t Prince Charles’ first wife, and the British public isn’t exactly in love with her, but it is very likely that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will become the next queen.
Camilla’s current title, as of her marriage to Charles in 2005, is “Princess Consort.” Even though she was given this courtesy title, she will still become Charles’ queen when he becomes king. It is possible that Camilla won’t be given the title of queen, but that isn’t very likely.
The Public Will Pay Their Respects
The Abbey will remain open 23 hours a day for the four days that the queen’s body rests there. The palace is prepared for over half a million people to line up to pay their respects over those four days. When the Queen Mother died, more than 200,000 people visited her in person.
Four soldiers will stand vigil in 20-minute shifts. The queen’s children and grandchildren will also stand watch in shifts alongside the soldiers.
The Funeral Will Be Held Nine Days After Her Death
There’s a lot of work that goes into a queen’s funeral. The floor of Westminster Hall will be covered in nearly 5000 feet of carpet. Candles need to be brought over from the Abbey, and Britain’s major streets need to be converted into ceremonial spaces.
Pallbearers need to be selected, and then they need to practice carrying a lead-lined coffin. All of this preparation takes a long time, so the actual funeral won’t happen until nine days after the queen’s death.
Who Will Come To The Funeral?
The queen’s funeral will be a very high profile event. Only 10,000 admission tickets will be printed for invited guests. These tickets can get you into the funeral itself and the proclamation of the new king.
The British government will have to make sure that everything runs smoothly. The government will also be responsible for coordinating security, transportation, and a military presence at the event. Most businesses will shut down on the day of the queen’s funeral.
Prince Charles Will Give A Speech
At some point, Prince Charles, the queen’s eldest son, will make a speech. He will likely speak to the public after he has been proclaimed king, but the speech may happen before the proclamation.
He will likely speak on the evening of the queen’s death, and the speech will be broadcast on television. Charles has probably had the speech written for years now, and he will just have to add in some details before he delivers it.
Parliament Will Be Recalled
After the queen passes, parliament will be recalled. Members of Parliament will start swearing oaths of allegiance to the new monarch— King Charles III. The two thrones that currently sit at the House of Lords, Philip and Elizabeth’s thrones, will be adorned with new cushions to welcome the incoming king and queen.
Britain cannot go on without a monarch for long, so this process will likely happen shortly after Charles is named as the new king.
Charles Will Go On A Tour Of Britain
While Queen Elizabeth’s body remains in the palace, Charles will go on a tour of Britain. He will attend memorials and vigils held in honor of his mother, and he will meet with government leaders.
This way, British people who live far away from Buckingham Palace, or people who are unable to travel, can still pay their respects to the royal family and welcome in their new king. Charles has been preparing for this tour for much of his adult life.
Multiple Receptions Will Be Held
Immediately following the Queen’s death, many heads of state, diplomats, and important world leaders will flock to England. These people will come to pay their respects, to welcome Charles as the new King, and to discuss future steps.
The Queen is currently Head of the Commonwealth, and there are 36 nations in the Commonwealth. Unlike the British Monarchy, the Head of the Commonwealth is not a hereditary title, and those nations may not want Charles to assume the position.
Where The Coffin Will Reside
After the funeral, the casket carrying the queen’s body will be taken to Windsor Castle and placed in the royal vault. The royal vault is located in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. It is the final resting place of several British monarchs dating back to Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom who was laid to rest there in 1810.
Charles will place red earth onto his mother’s coffin as he enters the royal vault, where it will remain forever.
Big Ben Will Not Strike Ten
On the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, Big Ben will strike 9 A.M., the bell will sound, and then leather will be placed around the bell to quiet the ringing. The bell will not sound again until the next day.
Also on the day of the funeral, the royal jewels that were on display on top of the coffin for four days will be removed from their glass case and cleaned. The stock market will be closed, and most of the country will have the day off.
There Will Be A 12 Day Mourning Period
Many reports have suggested that there will be a 12 day period of mourning after the Queen passes. That means that all of the union jack flags in the UK and around the world will be flown at half-staff, and the London Stock Exchange could be closed for several days.
Even though the Queen’s passing will mark the start of a new era in British history, the people of Britain still need time to mourn the loss of the woman who led them for so long.
Australia Will Be Affected Too
Australia is part of the Commonwealth, so the government and the citizens of Australia will also be affected by the Queen’s death. Flags will be flown at half-staff for ten days in Australia following Elizabeth’s passing.
The Australian Defence Force will conduct a gun solute in the Queen’s memory, and the Prime Minister of Australia will deliver a speech that has already been drafted. The whole nation will mourn along with England and the royal family.
Canada Is Part Of The Commonwealth
Canada has been putting together a plan for the days following the Queen’s death since 2002. All government buildings will hang black fabric over their flagpoles. Government officials in Canada will wear black ties and black armbands.
Canada’s national television station, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), will halt all programming and switch to 24-hour news coverage. There won’t be any advertisements on the station and all CBC radio stations will constantly cover the events unfolding across the pond.
How New Zealand Will Remember The Queen
New Zealand has already set up channels to receive news of the Queen’s passing directly from the Royal Household. After they receive the news, all of the flags in New Zealand will be flown at half-staff. Twenty-one gun salutes will be ordered and all of the broadcasters in the country will halt regularly scheduled programming to report on the Queen’s death.
All of the radio stations in New Zealand will be asked not to play punk music or songs by the band Queen on the day of Elizabeth II’s passing.
The Funeral Service Will Be Broadcast On Television
At exactly 11 a.m. on the day of the funeral, the queen’s coffin will be moved a few hundred meters from the entrance to the Abbey.
The whole country will go silent for the funeral proceedings. The funeral service will be filmed and broadcast on national television. The television cameras will take care to avoid focusing on the faces of the royal family during the service. Even though the service will be broadcast to the public, the country still wants to respect the family’s privacy.
These Plans Could Have Been Rolled Out Earlier
During the Queen’s long and fruitful life, she has been close to death on a number of occasions. According to a report by the Times, she was nearly shot by one of her own guards. She reportedly liked to walk around the palace grounds on nights she couldn’t sleep.
Once at 3 A.M., a guard mistook her for a prowler but once he realized it was the Queen, he said, “Bloody hell, your majesty, I nearly shot you.” She replied, “That’s quite all right. Next time I’ll ring through before hand so you don’t have to shoot me.”
Even Reporters Have Their Outfits Planned Out
As you now know, every last detail of the Queen’s death has been planned out. Depending on when it happens, the media already has plans for what to do, down to what they will publish and how reporters will announce the sad news to the public. Reporters won’t even need to scramble to find their best mourning clothes either, since there is already a dress code in place for the occassion.
Reporters supposedly have to wear dark-colored suits and the men in particular are required to wear a white shirt with a black tie in order to show their respect.
Don’t Expect To Catch Your Favorite Shows
Entire countries will obviously be in mourning upon the news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing. As such, even network television will be rightfully affected. For one, the BBC plans to devote all of its programming to the sad event as well as other news involving the royals. This will include interviews with the Queen’s inner circle and presentations on her legacy.
Many suspect that comedy shows will also not air during the period of mourning and will be suspended until at least after her funeral.
Social Media Will Also Take A Back Seat
Once the Queen passes, you’re sure to find out not long after it happens, especially since we live in a world where social media dominates everything. While news travels fast because of it, it’s unlikely that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will be the ones to break the official news.
The BBC plans to make the first official announcement on its broadcast networks, which will then likely funnel into the Internet. This is precisely what happened in 2002 when the Queen Mother passed away.
They Don’t Want False Information Out There
One reason that the announcement of Queen Elizabeth’s eventual passing is so controlled is because the royal family wants to prevent any false information from making its way into the world. Not only will all press outlets be informed at once with an official news release but the royal family’s official website will post the announcement on their homepage.
A footman in mourning clothes will also post a black-edged notice on the gates of Buckingham Palace. They certainly don’t want a repeat of what happened in the past, when a rumor circulated that Prince Philip died.
Many Think That Prince Charles Is Impatient
By 2008, Prince Charles has succeeded his great-great-grandfather Edward VII as the longest-waiting heir in U.K. history. We’d imagine that he is quite frustrated, having to wait his entire life to ascend the throne. After all, he is already 70 years old and still just a prince.
“He is impatient, but when he becomes king, his activities and all the projects he most enjoys where he can make a difference will be seriously curtailed. He has spent an awful lot of his life searching for a role, but I think he does now feel fulfilled pursuing his various interests,” a royal biographer once wrote.
His Coronation Is Still TBD
Although the Queen’s funeral proceedings have been laid out for decades, little thought has been put into Prince Charles’ coronation when he ascends the throne. Out of respect for the Queen while she is still living, it’d be in poor taste to be planning a celebration surrounding her death.
Even she had to wait to celebrate her ascension to the throne. Despite the fact that she stepped up immediately after her father died, Queen Elizabeth had to wait 16 months before her official coronation.
Will Prince Charles’ Coronation Mimmick His Mother’s?
When Prince Charles does finally ascend the throne, we may already have an idea of what it will look like. It all harkens back to when his mother ascended the throne. After enough time had passed from her father’s funeral, she swore her oath and was anointed with holy oil in 1953.
While wearing the Robe Royal and Stole Royal, she held the orb and scepter as the crown was placed on her head. At that point, her peers removed their hats, kneeled, and said, “God Save Queen Elizabeth. Long Live Queen Elizabeth. May the Queen live forever.” Indeed, this prayer has come to fruition.
Many Things Will Have To Change
When Queen Elizabeth passes, it will be a long time before anyone stops talking about her. Her image remains everywhere in countries that are a part of the Commonwealth, for which she remains the symbolic head. When the time comes and Charles becomes King, he won’t even automatically take that place since it has to be agreed upon by the heads of government from all 53 Commonwealth members.
Certainly, Prince Charles will start showing up on stamps, bank notes, coins, and on merchandise bearing his new title. The national anthem will change from “God Save The Queen” to “God Save The King.”
Will All Of This Make Camilla The New Queen?
When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne, her husband was never named a King. Instead, he remained Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. When their son Prince Charles becomes king, many people are questioning whether his wife Camilla will, therefore, be named queen.
There are plenty of citizens who take issue with this, especially for the fact that they weren’t so open to her early on when it was discovered Charles was cheating on his first wife Princess Diana with Camilla. In a 2015 poll, 35 percent of people didn’t want Camilla to be queen.
What About Prince Philip?
People were definitely more open to Prince Philip more so than they were to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Indeed, both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are well into old age and though the Queen will live out her reign until her last day, Prince Philip has already thrown in the towel.
He officially retired from his royal duties in 2017 at nearly 96 years old. This means he certainly will have little say in what happens after Queen Elizabeth’s passing, if he even lives to see the day.
Prince Harry’s Family Won’t Have Royal Titles Now
Because Queen Elizabeth lives on and Prince Charles has yet to ascend the throne, there is now no hope for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to receive royal titles of His or Her Royal Highness. Their newborn son Archie will not even have the title of prince like his father.
This would have only been possible had Prince Charles ascended the throne before Archie was born. If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle really wanted that for their son, they should have waited it out.
Queen Elizabeth Has Already Made Arrangements
Queen Elizabeth knows that her time on this earth isn’t everlasting, so it makes sense that she has made her own preparations for posterity. Because Prince George is the eldest son of Prince William, who will ascend the throne after Prince Charles, George automatically gains royal titles for him and his future family.
Queen Elizabeth has already invoked the Perth Agreement to ensure that in the event Prince George is unable to take the throne, she will be next in line ahead of the youngest Prince Louis.
But She Can’t Control Everything
Despite everything the Queen is able to take care of before her time eventually comes to an end, there are some things she absolutely cannot control. In 2017, there were rumors that she preferred to have a young royal family ascend the throne, favoring Prince William and his wife Kate to take her place ahead of Prince Charles.
But this was just a rumor since the 1701 Act of Settlement states that the Queen doesn’t have the power to choose who will succeed her. It says that the heir must be a direct successor and that would be Prince Charles.
The Only Way William Could Succeed His Grandma
While Queen Elizabeth doesn’t have the power to choose who will succeed her after she’s gone, Prince Charles does have the option to abdicate the throne. This would mean that he could give up the spot and hand it over to his eldest, Prince William.
Lest you forget, this is precisely how Queen Elizabeth took her place on the throne in the first place. After her father died, her uncle was next in line but he abdicated, making Elizabeth next in line. However, it’s highly unlikely Prince Charles would do such a thing, since he has been waiting his whole life to be king.
They Don’t Want It To Happen Anyway
Regardless of the possibility that Prince Charles could give up the throne for Prince William, it’s highly doubtful that either of them want this to happen anyway. Despite the fact that Prince Charles has had to wait so long to become king, he has had the benefit of being able to raise his sons. According to People, Prince Charles wants William to have the same opportunity.
“He wants his son to have a chance of a family life before he takes up the burden of kingship,” says Majesty editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward. Besides, Prince William reportedly wouldn’t think of being king before his father.
The Queen Has Other Options
With all this talk about what is to happen upon Queen Elizabeth’s death, many people forget that she also has other options. She could also live to see her son Prince Charles take the throne if she wanted to. All she would have to do is abdicate the throne. Just like Prince Philip did, all it takes is renouncing the royal duties and the job would be done.
However, it’s unlikely that she would do such a thing. After all, for someone who has served as Queen for 70 years, why should she give up now?
When William Becomes King
Likely long after Queen Elizabeth is laid to rest, Prince William will eventually become the king himself after his father (unless, of course, he abdicates). At that point, he will become the next King William of the British monarchy. The last ruler to share the name was William IV, who was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
When Prince William does become king, it is believed he will become King William V.
They Have An Option To Change Their Names
Prince William will have the option to change his name to George or Charles to honor the kings that came before him. That is, after all, what his great-grandfather did. Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI wasn’t even born with the name George.
Before King George ascended the throne, he was known as Prince Albert, or more commonly, “Bertie.” There’s even speculation that Prince Charles will change his name when he becomes king to honor his grandfather or his father if he doesn’t want to be King Charles III.
What Would That Mean For Kate?
When Prince William does eventually ascend the throne, this would mean a lot of changes for him and his wife, Kate Middleton. Many people expect that her name will be changed from Duchess of Cambridge to Queen Catherine.
Because she is the wife of the eldest son of Prince Charles, she has a higher position than Meghan Markle. But still, she is not part of the royal bloodline, so nothing would change if William decides to pass up his chance to become king.