The Queen is dead, what happens next? I thought it might be useful to set out what has happened and the timetable going forward.
I should point out that, as the announcement on the Royal family’s web site makes clear, Charles is now King. His accession is determined by the laws in the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms (countries where the UK monarch is also their’s e.g. Charles is now King of Canada). The Commonwealth Heads of Government have previously agreed that Charles will be the organisation’s Head on Elizabeth’s death.
The monarchy is often said to be the only thing to move faster than the speed of light. The moment the previous monarch dies, their sucessor becomes monarch. If he was not at her bedside, Charles would have been the first to be informed. He would immediately know when the doctor started with “Your Majesty”. Charles is now “by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of his other realms and territories King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith” although Charles has made it clear that he wants the Latin title “Fidei Defensor” to be translated as “Defender of Faith”
The Queen’s private secretary then rang the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, with the message “London Bridge is down”. This set off a message cascade, first to the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth realms, then to heads of state of the Commonwealth and other countries and finally a public announcement was made by notifying the media. A notice was posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace. The Royal Family web site (above) and Twitter gave the news.
As you might expect, there have been plans in place for this eventuality. The main TV channels and all BBC channels have switched to continuous coverage. On the digital channels; the shopping channels have shut and there are chryons on the Channel 4 and UKTV channels. Charles’ first duty was to address the nation.
He will return to London to meet with his Accession Council after which a formal proclamation of his monarchy will be made. The events up to the funeral have been well planned and Politico has given the details. That plan calls for the funeral to take place 10 days after her death. That would take it to Sunday September 18 but I suspect it may be pushed to the Monday with a public holiday so people can attend more easily. After that, we will be looking at Charles’ coronation, almost certainly next year. My bet is that this will be scheduled for the week of May 29.
Immediately of course the Royal (not national) Anthem becomes “God Save the King”. Along with the pronoun changes, the last lines of the second sung verse change back to rhyme.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!
The last two lines are now
With heart and voice to sing
God save the King!
Other changes will come in more gradually. Postage stamps will be among the first. International Postal Union rules require the monarch’s image to be on them rather than the country. Bank of England notes and coins can still be used. It’s likely that notes with Charle’s portraits will come out and most of the coinage in circulation will still have her head. Charles will first appear on the “commemorative” versions of 50p and £2 coins although it is likely a £5 coin will commemorate Elizabeth’s death and Charles’ coronation.
Elizabeth’s marriage and coronation provided much needed relief from the post-war austerity. Charles’s will come at a time when the country will be suffering from the effects of Brexit and the War in Ukraine. It will be intesting to see if it has a similar economic effect to his mother’s.