15 Things That Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies

It’s not an easy topic to talk about, but it’s inevitable – one day, Queen Elizabeth II will pass on from this life to the next. Everyone dies, even kings and queens, and now that the queen is over 90, it’s starting to become a topic of conversation in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in history on 2015 when the length of her tenure surpassed her great-great-grandmother Victoria. In February of 2017, she became the first British monarch ever to celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee, which is 65 years on the throne. Very few monarchs make it to the Platinum Jubilee – 70 years on the throne. Queen Elizabeth II could possibly achieve that in 2022.

When the queen dies, there are several things that will happen – some instantly, and some over time. Read on to find out what they are.

1. Operation “London Bridge” will commence

Tower bridge at London

London Bridge | sborisov/iStock/Getty Images

Buckingham Palace has a very specific plan for what will take place after the Queen passes away. The code name for that process? Operation London Bridge. Many of the details are kept secret, but once the plan goes into effect citizens can expect official announcements straight from the Palace.

Next: Here’s what the royal family will do when death is near.

2. The royal family will gather near her

The royal family

The royal family | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Of course, death could happen at any moment for any reason, but if Queen Elizabeth contracts an illness and her physician concludes that death is imminent, then other royal family members will gather around her bedside to pay their respects and say goodbye.

When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, she had time to place her final phone calls and even give away some of her horses.

Next: People won’t know about her death right away.

3. There will be code words

British royal guard

Royal guard | matthewleesdixon/iStock/Getty Images

It sounds like something out of a spy movie, but in this case it’s factual – after Queen Elizabeth II takes her final breath, important people will be notified via coded messages. Apparently, a former code phrase was, “London Bridge is down.”

The public won’t know about the event right away – unless they intercept the codes and interpret them correctly, of course.

Next: You’ll probably find out about the Queen’s passing this way.

4. The news will become public in multiple ways

Buckingham Palace and Gardens

Buckingham Palace | Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Tradition holds that a footman in mourning clothing will post a black-edged notice to the gates of Buckingham Palace that announces the queen has passed. But in a nod to modernity, they’ll also post an announcement on the official website.

How will most people find out about it? Social media, of course. Expect your Twitter and Facebook feeds to publicize the news when it happens.

Next: Here’s the morbid thing newspapers will do.

5. The press will immediately cover the story

The crowded scene at The Mall as members of the public make their way to and from St. James's Palace and Buckingham Palace to pay their respects to Diana, the Princess of Wales

Crowds of people in London | Thomas Coex/AFP/ Getty Images

It’s a lot easier to cover a story that you already know is going to happen. It seems morbid, but it makes sense – most major press outlets already have a rough outline of the story they’ll publish and will just need to update dates and small details accordingly.

The news coverage in the United States won’t be as widespread as it is in England, but you’ll still hear about it.

Next: These things will happen all over the city.

6. Bells will toll

The Union Jack flies at half mast over Buckingham Palace the day of Princess Diana's funeral

The Union Jack flies at half-mast over Buckingham Palace | Dave Gaywood/ AFP/ Getty Images

The death of a monarch demands a fair amount of ceremony. In London, all the flags will be lowered to half-mast and church bells all over the city will toll. The famous tenor bell at Westminster Abbey, which is rung for all royal deaths, will also ring. Major events might get canceled and people will gather outside of Buckingham Palace to pay respects.

Next: This official business must happen when she dies.

7. Parliament will convene

British parliament

British parliament | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II is the current head of state, so her death will require government involvement. Parliament must convene after the death of a monarch so they may swear allegiance to their successor. That’s what happened back in 1952 when the queen’s father, King George VI, passed away.

Next: This is what happens if the Queen dies away from home.

8. She’ll return home to London

Buckingham Palace and the Mall in London

Buckingham Palace and the Mall in London | mikeinlondon/iStock/Getty Images

As The Guardian explains, if the Queen dies while she’s out of the country, then a royal coffin will be transported to her final resting place so she can be sent back to London with the accompaniment of royal undertakers.

If she dies at her private residence in Norfolk, Sandringham House, her body will be transported via car to Buckingham Palace and placed in the throne room. It will be watched over by four Grenadier Guards.

Next: If the Queen passes away in Scotland, there’s a different procedure.

9. There’s a different plan if she’s at Balmoral

Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Things get a little trickier if the Queen dies while summering at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. If that happens, then her body will be moved to Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and then carried up the Royal Mile to St. Giles Cathedral for a funeral service. By then the public will be notified and will likely line up to throw flowers at the Royal Train, which will carry the body back to London for the burial service.

Next: This person will become King.

10. Prince Charles will become King of England

Prince Charles of Wales

Prince Charles | Carl Court/Getty Images

Yes, he’s much less popular than his son Prince William, but the line of succession cares little for popularity. When the Queen passes away, Prince Charles will make a speech in the evening and will be proclaimed King at 11 AM the next morning when he swears an oath known as the accession declaration.

Heralds will read a proclamation all over the city, there will be trumpets sounding, cannons will go off in a royal salute, and the flags will fly high again. Charles’ coronation won’t happen until after the mourning period, however.

Next: The new king might be called something else.

11. Charles will choose his name

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles arrive at Lacock Cyraiax Church

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles | Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

If you were expecting him to become King Charles, you could be mistaken. Reigning monarchs choose whatever name they like, and it might be different than what they’ve been called all along. For example, Queen Elizabeth’s father was called Prince Albert until he became King George VI.

Sources speculate that Prince Charles might take become King George in honor of his grandfather or King Philip for his father. However, it’s also possible that he’ll choose to be named King Charles III.

Next: This will be the first order of business for King Charles.

12. King Charles will embark on a royal tour

Prince Charles on a tour

Prince Charles on a tour | David Gray-Pool/Getty Images

After becoming King, Charles won’t get to sit around for very long. His first royal order of business will be visiting “home countries” including the British Isles, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, meeting with the people and leaders of those places along the way. He’ll be expected to shake hands and walk around greeting people on a personal level.

Next: The people will be able to watch this.

13. The Queen will lie in state

Welsh guards carry the coffin out of Westminster Abbey after Princess Diana's funeral

Welsh guards carry the coffin out of Westminster Abbey | Joel Robine/ AFP/ Getty Images

After the new King’s royal tour, it’ll be time to lay the Queen to rest. The coffin with the Queen’s body inside will go in a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. For the Queen Mother’s funeral, a procession of 1,600 servicemen and women accompanied the body as Beethoven’s Funeral March played and a royal gun salute went off.

Next: You’ll be able to watch this on television.

14. The funeral will be televised

The coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, arrives at Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey | Joel Robine/ AFP/ Getty Images

Remember watching the royal weddings? You’ll be able to see the Queen’s funeral on television, too. The service will take place in Westminster Abbey on a day that’s likely to become a national holiday for the people of England. One thing you won’t see? The grief of royal family members, which camera operators won’t film.

Next: Everything will be different after the Queen’s death.

15. The line of succession will change

Christening Of Prince Louis Of Cambridge at St James's Palace

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis after Prince Louis’ christening. | Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images

Once Prince Charles becomes king, Prince William will take his place as heir apparent and will become Prince of Wales. That’s the position given to the person who’s next in line for the throne. Technically Kate would then become Princess of Wales, but she may decline the title as respect for her Princess Diana (Charles’ wife, Camilla, is called the Duchess of Wales for that reason).

Once Prince William becomes heir apparent, his children will be next in line for the throne. The order will be: George, Charlotte, Louis, and then Prince Harry.