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What will happen when The Queen dies?

It is a sad fact of life that nobody is immortal, and The Queen is no exception. Although very much a taboo subject, one day she shall pass on – leaving Charles to become the next monarch of the United Kingdom. One of the questions Royal Central receives more than any other is what will happen when The Queen died? It has been so long since the last monarch died the procedures have changed a lot. Here we try to explain what will happen, and what will be the likely aftermath.

In the days between Her Majesty’s death and the funeral, the UK will grind to a halt. It’ll cost the British economy billions in lost earnings. The stock markets and banks will close for an indefinite period. And both the funeral and the subsequent coronation will become formal national holidays, each with an estimated economic hit to GDP of between £1.2 and £6 billion, to say nothing of organisational costs.

But to focus on the finances is to look at just the tip of the iceberg, below it is an event in which Britain has never seen before. The sheer magnitude of her passing will rupture through normal life.  It would mean that the BBC will cancel all comedy shows, and Prince Charles may very well change his name. The death of Diana brought about a huge number of mourners, but the Queen would be mourned on unprecedented levels. The Queen, for being head of state for 16 nations would be mourned in the hundreds of millions, if not billions considering 2.5 billion people watched Diana’s funeral, the Queen’s funeral would easily exceed 3 billion! The death of the Queen would be a shock to the entire world, very few people have known the world without the Queen – and without her, very uncertain times would lie ahead.

Much depends on the nature of her Majesty’s passing. If it was expected and HM died overnight, it would be announced first thing in the morning. Otherwise, there would be an interruption of the news, which the BBC would do, as well as other channels. Inside Buckingham Palace, arrangements for after the Queen’s passing and the subsequent succession are known as the “Bridge.” However, if she died in unexpected circumstances (like that of Diana) the news would spread uncontrollably, news crews would scramble to the location in an instant and all of a sudden the death would be covered in speculation due to no official announcement from the Palace. Most staff at the Palace and associated institutions will be immediately sent home from work. The Royal Court has a special staff hotline for distributing urgent notifications and instructions to employees for events if huge magnitude such as this.

When King George VI died in 1952, the BBC cancelled all comedy programmes for mourning after the announcement was made. These plans are still very much intact today, with the cancellation all comedy until after the funeral. This is a very rare event and has only happened once in the past decade when British MP Jo Cox was assassinated in the street earlier in 2016, although comedy shows were only cancelled for one day in this incident. Along with all comedy being cancelled, the London Stock Exchange would close, along with many banks, for a few days. With the logistics out of the way, the day of the funeral, believed to 12 days after her passing, would be declared a national bank holiday in which the economy would possibly lose up to £6 billion.

Due to the Queen’s popularity worldwide, the news story would be top in every nation; it would trend of social media and almost everyone in the world, no matter of geographical location, would know about the death within a few hours of its announcement. Whereas a lot of things are purely speculation, a few things will most certainly happen. Overseas, social functions will be cancelled. The Union Jack flag will be flown at half-mast until after the funeral (this will also happen at home in the UK) and officials will enter a period of mourning. Condolence books also will also be available to sign across the globe. However, a former ambassador has stressed there is a massive amount of uncertainty as to what will happen. It has been more than 60 years since the last monarch died. Society has changed a huge amount in that time. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The accession council would meet at St James’s Palace, to formally declare Prince Charles as the new monarch. This council is not required to make Queen Elizabeth II’s successor “official” however — Charles (barring unforeseen circumstances) will become the monarch from the moment of her passing. There is never not a Sovereign on the throne. This is also why the Royal Standard is never flown at half-mast. While at the Council, King Charles will swear loyalty to Parliament, and to the Church of England as he will also become the new Supreme Governor of the Church.

As the accession council and other politically important meetings are taking place; the Queen will lie in state for the public to file past for one hour only, from a day after her death until a day before the funeral. Before this, both Houses of Parliament will be recalled in order to take a new oath of allegiance to the new Monarch. All MPs must swear allegiance to the Monarch, although some Republican MPs are known to cross their fingers when doing so. Members of both houses will also present addresses of condolences and loyalty to the new Sovereign, a House of Lords spokesperson said, in a format that is yet to be determined. After the taking of the oath by both houses of parliament, both houses will be suspended until after the official funeral, with only a short ceremony marking the coffins arrival to lie and state.

Now after the official business that needs to be attended to, the Queen will have her funeral, in which her coffin will be taken to Westminster Abbey by the carriage for a state funeral.  Her funeral will be possibly the biggest attended, and watched in the world, world leaders from almost every nation will be present at the time the Archbishop of Canterbury begins the funeral.

The funeral is expected to be the most protected event on Earth, both military and police will be armed for the occasion with, like the 2012 London Olympic Games There will likely be a Royal Navy war ship on the Thames (for extra military equipment if needed) and the RAF on standby for any terror threat to the skies. Security teams will be working together with the Royal Guards, police and the army to make it the most protected event on Earth, the skies would constantly be scanned, police armed to protect Her Majesty and the estimated three to four million people lining the streets (possibly even more) from any terror threat of any kind, naval, airborne, or land.

With the funeral underway, the Queen is expected to be watched by three billion people worldwide as she makes her way through the streets of London, with two million bouquets being laid for Her Majesty at the royal households.

With her funeral done with, the Queen will then be laid to rest – at a place not publicly known yet, although speculation suggests she may be laid to rest in Balmoral, Sandringham or beside her father at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. After the funeral, the country will then start planning the coronation of the heir, presumably held six months after the funeral at Westminster Abbey. The coins, anthem, notes and the bobbies on the beat would have to be changed to allow for the new monarchs name/portrait to be placed on them.

So in a nutshell, when Her Majesty dies the world will come to a standstill to mourn arguably the greatest sovereign ever, not only to the UK but the world. However, this is just an explainer and going by The Queen Mother’s longevity, in all probability, we will be celebrating HM’s 100th birthday in 2026.

  • Karen119

    If HM’s funeral won’t be held until a week or more after her death why won’t people be able to pay their respects for more than one hour? And won’t there be quite an upsurge in the number of people visiting London? That would most likely increase revenue quite a bit.

  • Howard T

    I do not believe the Stock Exchange and Banks will cease trading for 12 days! They may close for a day on the announcement of the Queens passing and certainly on the day of the funeral but in this day and age GB will not come to a standstill. There will be a period of court mourning declared and the Coronation of King Charles will quite possibly be up to a year afterwards. (It was well over a year after King George VI died.)

  • Cindy Pritchett

    Who is going to apologize to Prince Edward for being forced into abdication, since he couldn’t be head of the English Church since he was married to a divorcee? Charles is a divorced person and so is Camilla.

    • Geri Shaeffer

      He married Camila after Diana died.

      • Cindy Pritchett

        It doesn’t matter. Study your English history. A Divorcee cannot be head of the English Church.

        • JSH

          No, it doesn’t matter since Edward did not abdicate because he wasn’t allowed to marry a divorcee. He abdicated because they didn’t like his choice of wife regardless of her marital history. There is no prohibition on divorcees married to the monarch.

        • Ricky

          You’re forgetting King Henry VIII.

        • Geri Shaeffer

          He was consider a widower when Diana died, he is the next in line to become King when Queen Elizabeth died and he was given permission to marry.

    • Ricky

      When Charles married Camilla, he could be considered a widower because his previous wife was no longer alive.

      King Edward VIII was never married; neither to a divorcee nor to anyone else. When Edward married Wallis Simpson he was the Duke of Windsor.

      • Cindy Pritchett

        He was made to sign away his right to the throne and all ties to the crown if he wanted to marry Simpson.

        • Ricky

          The royal courtiers considered Edward a bad king, and wanted him gone. His intention to marry Mrs Simpson provided an opportunity to topple him from the throne and send him into exile. She was not the real reason why he was persuaded to abdicate; only an excuse.

      • Jonathan Gathers

        Wrong! Charles and Diana were divorced before the latter died. Also, Edward abdicated so he would be able to marry Wallis Simpson.

        • Ricky

          Yes, of course I know Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales were divorced in 1996. But the point of view taken in regard to Charles’ status at the time of his second marriage was that he was considered a widower.

          King Edward VIII had choices; he could have married Mrs Simpson and stayed on the throne. His entire cabinet threatened to resign if he did so, provoking a constitutional crisis at home and in the Dominions. But he could’ve married her and remained king, in spite of the consequences to all concerned.

  • Mr. Christian

    I do not know what funeral arrangements the Queen may have prepared either in her will; or, other writing. However, this seems premature. The Queen has said that she intends to rule until the age of 100. With modern medicine this may be the case; and, I hope so for I fear what will happen to Britain, if that Prince of men, Prince Charles succeeds exposed and as ruthless as is. Otherwise and elsewhere I and others have been clear on how a King Charles may deport himself.

    • Anastasia Beaverhausen

      It will be a disaster of the first magnitude, beginning with Charles forcing the issue of his mistress/second wife being crowned Queen at his coronation. That means we will only have 6-12 months to bring the world’s pressure to bear on him so he will step aside like Edward VIII, for the greater good of the country and Commonwealth.

      • Ricky

        When Elizabeth II draws her last breath, King Charles III and Queen Camilla will automatically become the next monarchs.

        • Anastasia Beaverhausen

          The crown will never touch her head.

          • Ricky

            We shall see.

    • Ricky

      Her Majesty has said that she sees the monarchy as a job for life, and age makes no difference. And The Queen does not rule; she reigns.

      Prince Charles will be the next king if he survives Her Majesty, no matter what. The monarchy is not a popularity contest.

    • Gretchen K.

      I believe it would be a travesty for the Queen to not have preparations for her funeral in place. Having funeral arrangements planned out would be a relief for those mourning. I get that people want her reign to continue into her 100s, but a body and mind doesn’t always respond to what we want. I wish her no ill will but believe her commitment to duty would foster plans.

      As for Prince Charles becoming King, there are no indications from the royal family that prevent this from happening. As if public outcry could change his options. Charles will do whatever it takes to make Camilla Queen without giving up the throne.

  • GUSTAVO

    ESTE AÑO TUVE LA SUERTE DE ESTAR PARA EL CUMPLEAÑOS 90 DE SU MAJESTAD Y ESPERO ESTAR CUANDO SALGA AL BALCÓN DEL PALACIO A FESTEJAR SUS 100 AÑOS.

    • Ricky

      Por tener cien anos, es siempre una cosa buena. Si la reina lo tiene, es mejor!
      Viva la reina Isobel la segunda!

  • Amber

    I dont think so. No funeral will be bigger or sadder than Diana Spencer’s and that white lily and the “mummy” on her coffin… am still tearing up by just remembering…Not many will cry for Queen Elizabeth II eventho we all love her.

  • Alexander Knox Wylie

    If If the Parliament of the UK is said to be, and it is what I have read in official information, consists of the Sovereign, House of Lords and House of Commons, then why should the Sovereign swear loyalty to “Parliament? Also, Prince Charles committed the Biblical act of marriage with Camilla in terms of Exodus 22:16, but failed to endow her to become his ” legal ” wife in terms of Exodus 22:17 , well before her de jure and de facto marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles, so why this hypocritical nonsense about him? ! The book of Proverbs in the Bible says, “My son, rejoice in the wife of thy youth” ! Prince Charles has set a very fine example of rejoicing in the Biblical wife of his youth! Look at the terrible sin of King David in the Bible! Neither King Edward VIII , known to his family by his last name, David, nor Prince Charles Philip Arthur George have committed such a terrible sin! And God pointed out how He had taken David from the sheepfold and given him his masters Kingdom and his master, s “wives ” (plural ) ! Remember Nathan, s parable of the rich man with plenty sheep and the poor man with one ewe lamb like a family pet , as recorded in II Samuel 12! And see how God had given Abigail as another wife to David, after her evil husband, Nabal died as recorded in I Samuel 25 !

  • Miriam Stroud

    I believe the correct expression for the lowered position of the flag is “half STAFF”, not half mast.

  • seaneedee

    It is treason to imagine the death of the Queen…

  • Elwira

    Would you like to correct the grammar mistakes of which their seem to be a large amount in this article? I would love to improve my English by following Royal English speakers. Thank you in advance:)

  • Richard

    I hope we can replace the national anthem when the Queen passes on. It’s out dated and un passionate about England.
    Let’s have a national anthem about the country rather than about one person. I’m sure most people would welcome Jerusalem as a new national anthem.

    • Mr Callum James Livingston

      You seem to be forgetting that England does not had a national anthem, much the same as Scotland. For official events all countries of the United Kingdom adopt the anthem of the United Kingdom, God Save Our Queen. Your support for a new national anthem is better aimed at one of the many campaign groups calling for an English national Anthem.

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