What Happens At The Vigil Of Princes After A British Monarch Dies?

According to NPR, Queen Elizabeth II is the second-longest reigning monarch in history. Although her coronation was in 1953 (via History), the queen has been ruling since 1952: a whopping 70 years. Nevertheless, Independent notes that the queen's reign will inevitably come to an end after her death. With the queen now 96, royal biographer Penny Juror told Town & Country that the queen's death will upheave the entire nation. She explained, "There's not an aspect of life that hasn't changed, but the one constant in the midst of this has been the queen, the rock solid thing we can hang on to."

What then will occur when the queen does die? Politico reports that the British government has a codename for its detailed plan that it will implement after the queen dies; London Bridge. The first phase involves notifying officials and the royal family of the queen's death. Then, British Heritage states, the information will be made public by news outlets and social media. The queen's death means that Prince Charles will automatically become the King of England, providing he doesn't predecease her. Long before a coronation date is set, the royal family will announce funeral plans. Per Insider, the queen's funeral is expected to take place 10 days after her passing.

The days leading up to the funeral are set aside for national mourning

Town & Country reports that Britain is expected to mourn for a total of 12 days. During those days, Insider writes, the nation will shut down. This includes banks and stock markets. Per Independent, this will undoubtedly cause some damage to the economy. The queen's death is likely to be a "traumatic" event for Britain and its people while they process the news. However, they will be able to say goodbye, as the queen's body will lie in state in Westminster Hall. Canada's Global News reports that even if she does not die in London, the queen will be transported to Westminster Hall for this to occur.

The body will lie in state for four days, for 23 hours a day (via Insider). On the third day, Independent explains, the queen's grandsons will take the place of the guard that is watching over the body of the deceased monarch. They then will stand guard for some time in a ritual called "Vigil of the Princes." According to the The Guardian, this enduring tradition was brought back into modern times when King George V died in 1936. Express notes that only male relatives participate in the "Vigil of the Princes."

It's believed that in the event of her death, the queen wants both her children and grandchildren to stand guard for her. Although Prince Philip did not receive this tribute when he died in April 2021 (per Express), The Guardian explains that it did occur when the queen's mother died in 2002.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct the funeral

The evening before the Queen Mother's funeral, her four grandsons — Princes Charles, Andrew, and Edward, and Viscount Linley, the son of Princess Margaret — stood vigil at her coffin for 20 minutes as the public filed past (per The Guardian) — the "Vigil of the Princes." Politico notes that the queen's funeral will be a massive event that is likely to cause London to be at full capacity. Moreover, it's believed that the funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey. According to Town & Country, the service will be led by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury (per Britannica). Insider states the funeral will be watched by billions at home. It's also predicted that the date of the funeral will become a national holiday. As for where she will be buried, speculation seems to focus on three possibilities; Sandringham, St. George's Chapel in Windsor, or Balmoral, in Scotland.

Independent reports that the queen owns Sandringham and Balmoral. However, her father, King George VI, is buried at St. George's Chapel. People writes that the father and daughter had an incredibly close relationship. Per The Royal Family, St. George's Chapel was completed by King Henry VIII in 1528. Notably, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married there in 2018 (via BBC). Speculation aside, Politico reported last year that she will definitely be buried in the Memorial Chapel.

That being said, it's estimated that Prince Charles will be officially crowned a year after the queen's death. From then on, several official changes will be made, including fresh currency, featuring the portrait of the new king, and much more.