What Will Happen After Queen Elizabeth II Dies?

The majority of the people reading this article have likely lived through the presidencies of at least eight presidents of the United States and probably two or three popes. However, except for the readers at the older end of the bell curve, most have been alive during the reign of one and only one British monarch: Queen Elizabeth II. She has reigned since 1952 and, according to Tatler, is the longest-reigning current monarch in the world. However, at 95, the queen likely doesn't have much time left, and soon the British public and government, as well as those of her realms across the world, will have to deal with not only the death of their beloved royal, but also with the transition from the Elizabethan monarchy to that of her successor (likely her son, Prince Charles).

When Queen Elizabeth does die, it will set into motion a series of events that will include the immediate ascension of her successor, followed by a period of mourning and a state funeral, and will culminate in the coronation of the next monarch.

Charles will become king immediately

Assuming he doesn't immediately abdicate his place in line to the throne, Britain's next monarch, on the death of Queen Elizabeth, will be her son, now known as Prince Charles. Indeed, it will happen effectively one day after his mother's death, according to British Heritage, after his siblings have customarily kissed his hand. Charles will also have to choose a regnal name, although as of this writing he's expected to follow his mother's example and stick with his birth name, thus being known as King Charles III.

Meanwhile, Operation London Bridge will kick in. This will be the process by which the British press, as well as the governments of the other realms, are notified of the death of the monarch.

While his mother lies in state, Charles will meet with his ascension council, and later will travel to Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to meet his subjects. He will make his first address to his subjects from St. James' Palace.

Elizabeth's funeral will be 10 days after her death

For the 10 days immediately following Queen Elizabeth's death, according to Politico, parliamentary business will be suspended in the country, and flags across the realms will be lowered to half-staff (or half-mast on ships). During that time, various governmental agencies in Britain will have to deal with a variety of possible contingencies that may or may not come to fruition, including the possibility of London being overrun with hundreds of thousands of mourners. Meanwhile, the British government will also have to sort out how to handle all the foreign heads of state and VIPs who will want to pay their respects, while a global pandemic still rages.

The queen's funeral will, of course, be a full state funeral complete with gunned salutes and similar other trappings. At noon on the day of her funeral, the entire realm will experience two minutes of silence, followed by a committal service at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. She will be buried in the castle's King George VI Memorial Chapel, where her father is also buried.

Charles won't be crowned right away

Although he'll become king immediately on the death of his mother (or, to be more specific, following a small handful of trivial formalities), Prince Charles won't undergo the coronation ceremony until months after his mother's death, according to Town & Country Magazine. This is in keeping with tradition. In the past, following the death of a monarch, the country has gone into an official period of mourning that lasts for several months, and indeed, the period of mourning could even last longer than the monarch's reign! Such was the case with Elizabeth's uncle, King Edward VIII, who ascended the throne on the death of his father, but then abdicated a few months later without being crowned.

Assuming Charles neither abdicates nor dies before his coronation, expect it to happen about a year or so after Elizabeth's death. That particular ceremony will be, like every such ceremony before it, a solemn, dignified, religious, and patriotic event filled with pomp and circumstance. There will be multiple references to God and Christianity, and overall the event will be a Christian ceremony, but Charles is also expected to bring in other elements of other faiths practiced in Britain and the Commonwealth.