What Will Happen Once Queen Elizabeth II Dies?

Queen Elizabeth II has been around for almost everybody’s lifetime. At 95 years old, she is the longest-reigning British monarch ever. She took the throne at the age of 25 in 1952, and as of February 6, 2022, she has reigned for 70 years.

Long live the queen

The plan following Queen Elizabeth’s death, according to multiple reports, is code-named “London Bridge”—although it’s not such a secret anymore.

Operation “London Bridge” will go into effect

“Upon Her Majesty’s death, a number of strict measures will swiftly come into operation,” says Gavin Hughes, director of the Irish Conflict Archaeology Network at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies at Trinity College Dublin.

Code words will be spoken

Once all the really important people know, everyone else across the United Kingdom and the world will find out—you’ll probably remember for the rest of your life where you were when you heard the news.

People will find out in ways both modern and ancient

Most major outlets—including the British tabloids—have obituaries and news stories ready to go for public figures who are getting up there in years.

The press have their own plans in place

It’s possible we could see a huge display of grief from the normally stiff-upper-lipped British people to rival even the emotion after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

There will be an outpouring of grief

According to documents obtained by Politico, there is concern that the number of people who will come to London to mourn Queen Elizabeth, which could number into the hundreds of thousands, could present a logistical nightmare for the city.

London could get crowded

In London, the ceremonial traditions of the British monarchy will begin. “National flags will be immediately flown at half-mast on all government and civic buildings, such as churches and the Royal Palaces across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland,” Hughes says.

The bells with toll

The Guardian reports that if Queen Elizabeth dies while abroad, a plane from the Royal Air Force will send a coffin with royal undertakers to bring her back by air.

What happens if the queen is not in London

The most complicated situation will be if the queen passes while at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she spends every summer. Scottish rituals would take place after her death

If she is at Balmoral

Although there will be rituals and ceremonies aplenty, Prince Charles doesn’t need any of that to actually become king—that happens instantaneously, despite the reasons some British citizens don’t want Prince Charles to be king.

Prince Charles will immediately become king

Several rituals will take place to solidify the new monarch’s position. “On the evening of the [queen’s] death, the new king will address the nation,” Hughes says.

Charles will take the throne

British monarchs are allowed to pick their own ruling name when they take the throne. Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, was born Prince Albert and known as “Bertie.”

Charles will pick his name

When Prince Charles becomes king, it will be time to get to work, even before his mother’s funeral. “After a short period of grieving and official condolences for the family, King Charles will embark on a tour of the UK prior to the funeral, visiting Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales,” Gullace says.

King Charles will tour the home nations

Queen Elizabeth will be moved from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster for “the public viewing of her casket at Westminster Hall, where she will lie in state,” Gullace says.

The queen’s coffin will be open to the public

“On the tenth day after her death, the queen’s body will be moved into Westminster Abbey for an elaborate state funeral, to be attended by dignitaries from throughout the world,” Gullace says.

The queen will have a state funeral

After the funeral at Westminster Abbey, the queen’s body will be brought home to Windsor Castle outside of London, where many members of the royal family over the centuries have been buried at St. George’s Chapel.

The queen’s final resting place

After Charles becomes king, William (one of Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren) will move up and take the position of heir apparent.

The line of succession will change

Although there is much debate about what happens when the queen dies in terms of the continuation of the monarchy, chances are, everything will stay the same.

Monarchy will remain, but the Commonwealth is uncertain