After 70 years on the British throne, Queen Elizabeth II has died at age 96, the Royal Family has confirmed on Twitter. "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," the tweet said. "The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow."
With Queen Elizabeth II's eldest son, Charles, 73, next in the line of succession, many are wondering when the former Prince of Wales will officially be crowned King. The answer is kind of complicated, and it lies in the difference between becoming king and being crowned king. Allow us to explain.
When will Prince Charles Become King?
Charles is already King, and it happened the moment the Queen died. According to University College London's Constitution Unit, the immediate transmission of monarch status comes from an old common law rule known as Rex nunquam moritur, which translates to "the king never dies."
At 73 years old, Charles is the oldest British royal in history to take the throne. (For the sake of comparison, Queen Elizabeth II was 25 when the death of her father, King George VI, vaulted her onto the British throne.)
Charles' wife, Camilla, automatically became Queen when Charles became King.
Speaking to the public on the even of her 70th anniversary on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II said she hoped the public would support Charles and Camilla as King and Queen following her death: "And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service."
When Will Prince Charles be Crowned King?
A British coronation ceremony symbolically crowns a King or Queen after they've already ascended the throne. British coronations have historically happened well after the death of the previous ruler, so as not to overlap with the period of mourning. Queen Elizabeth II's coronation took place on June 2, 1953, over a year after she officially became Queen.
Because Charles became King the instant Queen Elizabeth II died, his crowning ceremony will commemorate an event that has already happened. In other words, he'd be King whether or not he ever had a coronation ceremony. (As UCL's Constitution Unit points out, Edward VIII carried out his brief reign in 1936 without ever officially being crowned king.)
Buckingham Palace has long had a plan in place for what will happen when Queen Elizabeth dies, known as Operation London Bridge. According to Politico, the plans state that Prince Charles will give a televised speech once the public has been notified of the Queen's death. He'll also go on a tour of the United Kingdom within the ten days between the Queen's death and her funeral.
Read King Charles' moving public statement following the death of Queen Elizabeth II:
"The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family," wrote Charles in a statement. "We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held."
A statement from His Majesty The King: pic.twitter.com/AnBiyZCher
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 8, 2022
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