The topic of Queen Elizabeth II’s death is a delicate one. No-one likes to dwell on such an unhappy milestone. At 95, Queen Elizabeth is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having been on the throne for 69 years; longer than some of us have been alive. We’ve grown up with the Queen; her royal roadmap of births, marriages, wars and deaths running parallel to our own lives.
And yet. In the context of her recent health scares, the ageing monarch herself has spoken about her own mortality.
After missing the General Synod Service and the Opening Session of the Church of England for the first time in its 51-year history, earlier this month, the Queen issued a poignant statement relayed through her youngest son, Prince Edward, which read: “It is hard to believe that it is over 50 years since Prince Philip and I attended the very first meeting of the General Synod…None of us can slow the passage of time.”
With the Queen stepping back from her public duties, as per her doctor’s advice to rest, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II may come to end sooner rather than later – although we all hope so dearly that she will endure until her landmark platinum Jubilee in June 2022.
But as the longest-reigning British monarch, there’s an entire generation of people who have not known life without her. So what is the protocol when a reigning monarch dies?
According to British Royal biographer, Penny Juror, who has been writing about the royal family for over 35 years, the Queen’s death will be a “traumatic” event for the nation.
Speaking to Town & Country, Juror says:
“The Queen is such a tremendously popular figure and during the course of her reign, so much has changed so dramatically…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.”
And according to The Telegraph, Buckingham Palace has detailed plans in place for the Queen’s funeral and the crown succession, codenamed “Bridge.”
Here’s what various Royal-loyal publications such as Town & Country and The Telegraph are predicting in the wake of the Queen’s death:
As a monarch, Queen Elizabeth will have a state funeral, which will take place 12 days following her death. Her service will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the senior bishop of the Church of England, and will be held at either Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral, in the presence of many international dignitaries. And like her parents and the many royals before her, it is widely understood that Her Royal Majesty will be laid to rest in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Naturally the news regarding the Queen’s death will be immediately broadcast. The BBC will cancel all pre-planned programmes and screen a detailed coverage of the royal news. Though the funeral will be televised, it will be forbidden to film any of the Royal Famly members during the service.
The British throne will never be empty. Once the Queen dies, her eldest son, Prince Charles will automatically become King. Juror explains to Town & Country:
“He has been preparing all his life…It should be reassuring that there will be a familiar face taking the Queen’s place.”
Though there is no doubt the heir is ready to ascend the throne, there is no fixed date in place for the coronation. The Telegraph reports that “there is an element, almost, of bad taste in getting into detail. There is also a risk that any plans made now would leak and cause trouble or be overtaken by later events.” And with the world watching, there is no room for error.
Prince Charles’s succession will usher in a massive change. The British national anthem would be revised to “God Save The King,” new stamps, banknotes and coins, with the male monarch’s image will be released.
The newly-crowned monarch will also take his place as head of the Commonwealth, a decision made by Commonwealth leaders years ago in April 2018.
It is also likely that the Duchess of Cornwall will become Queen Camilla, her official role as Princess Consort. Prince William will take on his father’s former title and the line of succession will change. Prince George will become second in line to the throne, followed by his sister Princess Charlotte and younger brother Prince Louis.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, has the choice to drop her current title and inherit Princess Diana’s former title, the Princess of Wales. While Duchess Camilla also has the right to go by that title, she has retained her title Duchess of Cornwall instead out of respect for the late Diana and her continued association with that title.