Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, 2022, was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She ascended the throne in 1952 and remained there until her death at age 96.
With the Queen’s death comes the first time most of the world will see a new monarch ascend the British throne. So… what happens next?
What happens next?
There are several detailed plans for the aftermath of the Queen’s death. If Queen Elizabeth were to die in London, a process called “Operation London Bridge” would take place. But she died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, meaning an arrangement called ‘Operation Unicorn’ is in the works.
According to British historian Andrew Roberts, just after the Queen took her last breath, her private secretary, Edward Young, called Prime Minister Liz Truss and informed her of his death. Then the Privy Council of the United Kingdom (think of them as the Queen’s Counsel) was notified, followed by various official notifications that are sent to the civil service.
Once the Privy Council was informed, there was a plan to try to fly the flags of all official buildings at half mast within 10 minutes.
“There’s going to be a huge sort of scramble to make sure that from Number 10 Downing Street to all the other buildings, they get the flags at half mast,” Roberts told TODAY.
Later in the day, the Prime Minister will make a statement accompanied by a minute’s silence. Ceremonial bells will also be held at several locations, including Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.
When does King Charles officially become king?
Immediately after the Queen’s death, Charles, the Queen’s eldest child with the late Prince Philip, automatically became King, while his wife, Camilla, became Queen Consort.
Queen Elizabeth actually made an announcement in February 2022 stating her desire for the public to support her son and Camilla after his death.
“When, in due time, my son Charles becomes king, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support you have given me,” she said at the time. “And I sincerely hope that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her loyal service.”
“There is no void in the Marquess,” Roberts said. “The line, ‘The queen is dead. Long live the king’ is the way of looking at it. There isn’t a second in history where there isn’t a monarch.
The Privy Council will meet the Accession Council – a ceremonial body that meets at St. James’s Palace when a monarch dies – the day after the Queen passes away. They go officially proclaim Charles King of England.
However, don’t expect her coronation ceremony to take place until at least a few months after the Queen’s passing. After all, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation ceremony didn’t take place until more than a year after her father’s death.
When would the Queen’s funeral take place?
Because the Queen died at Balmoral, her body will be transferred from there to Holyrood in Edinburgh. The coffin will be taken to the throne room of the castle, where it will be greeted by members of the royal family. Charles will arrive at Holyrood the next day.
The coffin will then be taken to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh for certain services before being transferred to London, England, five days after Queen Elizabeth’s death.
Queen Elizabeth’s funeral is scheduled to take place 10 days after her death, Roberts said. During this time, the Queen will most likely be in state and the public will have the opportunity to come and pay their respects.
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