16 Things That Will Happen Once Queen Elizabeth II Dies
This is one thing the British people—and royal watchers across the pond—don’t want to think about. But the palace has a plan for exactly what will go down when their beloved monarch passes on.
Could William be king?
Past rumors have suggested that Charles will abdicate in favor of his younger, more popular son. That possibility was explored in the recent play King Charles III (which also featured a conniving Duchess Kate scheming to get her husband on the throne). But despite all the talk, it’s likely Charles will take up the job he has waited longer for than any other British heir: He’s been heir apparent since he was just three years old. Likewise, here are the reasons Queen Elizabeth will never give up the throne before she dies. Charles will also be the oldest monarch to begin his rule.
King Charles will tour the home nations
Once Charles is proclaimed king, it will be time to get to work, even before his mother’s funeral. He is planning to embark on a tour of the “home countries” of the British Isles, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, to meet with leaders and attend services. Charles will also go out and meet the people. “From day one, it is about the people rather than just the leaders being part of this new monarchy,” one of his advisers told the Guardian. “Lots of not being in a car, but actually walking around.”
The Queen will lie in state
A few days later, after Charles makes his way back to London, the Queen’s coffin will travel to Westminster Hall in a slow procession from Buckingham Palace. For the Queen Mother‘s funeral in 2002, 1,600 servicemen and women were involved in the procession, where Beethoven’s Funeral March was played and a royal gun salute sounded off. After arriving at Westminster, the public will be allowed to visit and pay their respects to the Queen for several days. The Guardian reports half a million people are expected.
We can all watch the funeral
Murray Sanders / Daily Mail /Shutterstock
For the people of England, the Queen’s funeral will likely be a national holiday. Big Ben’s hammer will be padded so it strikes in muffled tones. The Queen will be moved from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey for the service, which will be televised, but cameras will refrain from showing the grieving faces of the royal family during prayers, reports the Guardian. Then, the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and pulled by Royal Navy sailors (a tradition that began after Queen Victoria’s unruly funeral horses almost bolted). After the London procession, a hearse will bring Queen Elizabeth to Windsor Castle, where she will be buried; she will most likely join her parents (their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) and sister (Princess Margaret) in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
The line of succession will change
As Charles becomes King, William will move up and take the position of heir apparent. He’ll likely also take the title Prince of Wales, which is traditionally given to the next-in-line to the throne. This would make Kate the Princess of Wales, but because this was Diana’s title, she may opt for another out of respect for her late mother-in-law. The Queen’s death would put Will and Kate’s children at second (George), third (Charlotte), and fourth (Louis) in line to the throne. Prince Harry will remain below them in fifth place.
Monarchy will remain, but the Commonwealth is uncertain
Although there is much debate about what will happen to the monarchy after the long-reigning Elizabeth, chances are everything will stay the same. According to a recent poll, almost 70 percent of Brits are in favor of having a monarchy. And with Charles likely to have a short reign due to his age, the monarchy will continue to grow and modernize as the popular younger generation then takes the reigns. Slightly less clear is what will happen to the Commonwealth, the voluntary association of independent former colonies that accounts for over a third of the world’s population. Last April at a Commonwealth meeting, the Queen asserted it was her “sincere wish” that Charles carry on as head of the Commonwealth. The other government leaders soon agreed, officially announcing to the press he would take her place when she passes. If you want to be an expert on the royals, find out 50 more things you didn’t know about the British royal family.