As the world processes the news of Queen Elizabeth II‘s death at the age of 96, it’s only natural to ask: What happens now that the rule of the world’s longest-reigning monarch has come to an end? What is planned for her funeral? Is Prince Charles king already? Are there competing claims to the throne? Will they have to change all the money and passports? We’ve been asking ourselves those very questions (and more), and we’ve put together these answers.
What Is Operation London Bridge?
“London Bridge is down” is the codephrase used internally by the royal family and the government to convey news of the queen’s passing, and Operation London Bridge refers to the events that will unfold as a result, which have been planned (and have evolved) since the 1960s. Specifically:
- There will be a period of national mourning, lasting 12 days, during which flags will fly at half-mast at government offices and royal residences.
- The queen’s body will lie in state for three days at Westminster Hall, according to the Independent, followed by a state funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey.
- The day of the funeral will be a national holiday, so expect institutions such as the stock market to be closed.
- Throughout the mourning period, there should be lots of public tributes from prominent figures and politicians.
More plans may be announced soon on royal.uk, the official website of the Royal Family, which is “temporarily unavailable while appropriate changes are made.”
But Is Charles King Already?
Although his coronation is being planned (it will also be a national holiday), Prince Charles is now already considered King Charles III, and Camilla Parker-Bowles is the Queen Consort.
This is apparently what the queen wanted:
But Are There Competing Claims to the British Throne?
Charles is king now, but the line of succession goes beyond him, of course. His son, Prince William, is the heir apparent — that is, he has an uncontested right to the throne. If William were a mere heir presumptive, which is also a thing, his right could be challenged if the sovereign fathered another child who would rank higher in line to the throne. Following William, the line of succession threads through his children, back to his younger brother, Harry, and eventually hits Charles’s younger brother, Andrew, Duke of York, before going to his children.
Although you yourself are probably related to Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, you are not in line for the throne.
What Happens to British Money and Passports?
The queen’s face adorns the paper money and coinage not only of the United Kingdom but of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That is all likely to change, though the Mirror notes there is yet no timetable for the alteration. Ditto for stamps and passports (which refer to “Her Majesty”). Changing the national anthem from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King” should happen on a speedier schedule.