What Will Happen When Prince Philip, Husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Dies?

Queen Elizabeth II plans for everything, including her death. The queen envisions passing away after a short illness. She plans to leave her gastroenterologist in charge of her final moments. Plus, she has specified 12 days of mourning, during which the BBC can’t play any funny programming. But has she made similar plans for the death of Prince Philip, her husband? Of course she has. (And probably not just because of Prince Philip’s age.)

Rumors about Prince Philip’s health periodically circulate, angering the queen. But the Duke of Edinburgh can’t live forever. Below, check out exactly what will happen on the sad day when Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passes away — hopefully many years from now.

The BBC will be the first to announce Prince Philip’s death

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, leave St Paul's Cathedral in London on March 13, 2015, after attending a memorial service to mark the end of Britain's combat operations in Afghanistan.

The couple has planned for Prince Philip’s death. | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

The time it takes for the public to find out about Prince Philip’s death will depend on when it happens. The New Zealand Herald reports that if Prince Philip dies in his sleep, then an announcement will likely come at 8 a.m. the following morning. But regardless of the time of day, the BBC is expected to be the first media outlet given the news of the prince’s death.

However, the BBC may not end up breaking the news first. The Herald notes that the Press Association will quickly notify other media outlets, too. The BBC would traditionally learn of royal deaths first. But “social media and modern technology have negated that system.”

Prince Philip doesn’t want to lie in state at Westminster Hall

As the husband of the queen — and the longest-reigning consort in British history — Prince Philip is entitled to a full state funeral, as per The Independent. But The New Zealand Herald reports that the prince has long insisted that he doesn’t want all the “fuss” of a state funeral.

He has also said that his body doesn’t need to lie in state at Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament. Instead, his body will lie in state at St. James’s Palace. (The same place where Princess Diana’s body lay in state ahead of her funeral.) The public will not be allowed to view his body.

He wants a ‘low-key’ service instead of a full state funeral

The New Zealand Herald reports that when Prince Philip dies, “The funeral will be low-key.” The Daily Beast reports that Queen Elizabeth II would prefer to honor Philip’s service to the nation with a full state funeral. But she plans to observe her husband’s wishes.

Prince Philip’s family and friends — plus the heads of state of some Commonwealth countries — will attend a military-style service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, according to Express. Then, Prince Philip will be buried in Frogmore Gardens. This secluded 35-acre garden remains off-limits to the public.

Queen Elizabeth II will mourn Prince Philip for eight days

Royal Windsor Horse Show Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have been married for decades. | Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

After Prince Philip’s funeral, Queen Elizabeth II — assuming she outlives her husband — and the staff at the palace will enter a period of mourning. The mourning period will reportedly last eight days from the time of Prince Philip’s death, according to The Daily Beast. During that time, the queen will stop working. That means that she won’t be able to give her Royal Assent to new laws. And other affairs of state will have to wait for eight days.

A further period of mourning will continue for 30 days, according to The Independent. After the end of the official mourning period, Queen Elizabeth II will resume her royal duties. Yet as The Daily Beast notes, she will likely continue mourning privately for the rest of her life.

Flags will fly at half-mast when Prince Philip dies

In the United Kingdom, as in the United States, flags fly at half-mast as a symbol of mourning, respect, or distress. So in the days after Prince Philip’s death, flags at important institutions and military establishments will fly at half-mast.

However, the Royal Standard flag flown at the palace when Queen Elizabeth II is in residence will not be lowered to half-mast, according to The New Zealand Herald. The Royal Standard symbolizes the continuity of the monarch. So it never flies at half-mast, as there is always a sovereign on the throne.

There won’t be any constitutional implications, but the queen could abdicate

Everyone will mourn Prince Philip’s death. But as The Daily Beast notes, the occasion won’t have any constitutional implications. The only noticeable change expected to happen in public life? Prince Edward will inherit his father’s title.

Nonetheless, the publication also notes that some speculate that Queen Elizabeth II could abdicate the throne when Prince Philip dies.  She supposedly planned never to retire. But palace insiders have said that upon the death of her husband, the queen may retreat to Balmoral. From there, she could ease the public into accepting Charles and Camilla. (The British public doesn’t exactly love the idea of Prince Charles becoming king, after all.)

Read more: All the Ways the British Monarchy Will Change After the Queen Dies

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