What Happens To The British National Anthem When Queen Elizabeth Dies?

Queen Elizabeth I has headed the British monarchy for nearly 70 years. For as long as most people can remember, she's been the only monarch the U.K. has known. And as a result of this, the wording of British national anthem, "God save the Queen," has been exactly appropriate for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since the queen succeeded her father, King George IV, in 1953 (via History). Obviously, as the word queen is in the song's title and lyrics. What will happen to the anthem when she dies?

Upon Queen Elizabeth's death, her first son, Prince Charles, if he's still living, will succeed her on the throne. If it just so happens that he doesn't get to succeed her, the immediate line of succession still has two other males: her grandson Prince William ,and her great-grandson, Prince George (via Royal Family). This means that upon her death, the U.K. will have a king once again, and the anthem will need a subject change.

Back to the original wording

Before the British sang "God save the Queen," they sang "God Save the King." In truth, the anthem was originally about saving the king because at the time, males ruled the land that is known as the U.K. That is what was in mind when the saying was first spoken out loud. The first king to enjoy being serenaded with the song was King George II, because it was first performed publicly during his reign in 1745, says the Royal Family.

But a century later Queen Victoria took the throne, and for the first time the anthem was changed to honor a queen. She in turn was succeeded by a king, and it switched back to the original phrasing. Four kings followed Victoria, but then Queen Elizabeth II came along. For the second time, the anthem was changed to "God save the Queen." Odds are that when she dies it will change back to "God Save the King" — whoever that king might be.