The death of Queen Elizabeth II: what happens now?

·4-min read
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images

Yesterday, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral; she was Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

The Queen's death is sure to trigger both acute grief and uncertainty in Britain and around the world. As royal biographer Penny Juror previously explained, her death will be a "traumatic" event for Britain.

"The Queen is such a tremendously popular figure and during the course of her reign, so much has changed so dramatically," Juror told Town & Country. "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."

Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images

The Palace has detailed plans in place for the Queen's funeral and the subsequent succession, which has been given the code-name "Bridge". As we've seen in the immediate hours following her death, the media has been well-rehearsed with regards to their coverage. Here's what else we can now expect following the monarch's passing.

National mourning

The Queen's death will lead to a period of national mourning in Britain, which is expected to last around 10 days. Large crowds visited the Queen Mother's coffin in 2002, and it's been confirmed that the Queen's body will also lie in Westminster Hall until her funeral to allow people to pay their respects. Union Jack flags in the UK and around the world will also be flown at half-mast and condolence books will appear in international embassies.

Our new monarch, King Charles III, has expressed his wish for the royal family and members of the royal household staff to undergo a period of royal mourning, which will last until seven days after the funeral.

Official tributes

Royal Salutes will be fired in London the day after the Queen's death is announced, in Hyde Park by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, and at the Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company, as well as in numerous other locations across the UK. One round will be fired for each year of The Queen's life.

Royal Residences will close until after the Queen’s funeral – as detailed on the official Royal Family website – including Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House, and The Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. The Queen's private estates will also close for this period.

Dedicated floral tribute gardens have been created for members of the public wishing to lay flowers, situated close to significant royal residences. Details of these can be found here. There is also an online book of condolence for anyone to sign.

The Queen's funeral

This will be "an extraordinary occasion," says Juror. As monarch, the Queen will be given a state funeral, which is expected to take place 10 days after her death. The service will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the senior bishop of the Church of England, and will take place at either Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral, where there's likely to be an impressive international turnout. Like her father, mother, and many royals before her, it's widely believed the Queen will be laid to rest in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

Succession and the coronation

To ensure the British throne is never vacant, Charles, the Queen's eldest son, automatically became King yesterday. "He has been preparing all his life," Juror explained. "It should be reassuring that there will be a familiar face taking the Queen's place."

However, while the heir is no doubt ready, there is no fixed schedule in place for his coronation. "This is not mere negligence," explains The Telegraph. "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."

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

There was a 16-month gap between the death of King George VI and the Queen's coronation in 1953, and with the world watching, there's no room for error. "The price of getting his coronation wrong could be high," the newspaper added.

Of course, Charles' ascension will now bring about much change. In Britain, the national anthem will be altered to "God Save The King," and new stamps, banknotes and coins will be issued with an image of the male monarch.

Charles will also succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth. That decision was made by Commonwealth leaders in April of 2018.

"I am deeply touched and honoured by the decision of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government that I should succeed The Queen, in due course, as Head of the Commonwealth," Charles said in a statement at the time. His wife Camilla is now known as Queen Consort.

One thing is for sure: Charles has a fine example to follow.

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