What Will Happen When Queen Elizabeth II Dies and Charles Becomes King

  • Gossip blog Hollywood Unlocked is doubling down on its baseless claim that the Queen died.
  • HU’s post went viral but it’s likely false; the palace’s plan only involves notifying British media.
  • After notifying government officials, the palace is expected to inform the British press.

A US celebrity gossip blog is doubling down on its baseless claim that Queen Elizabeth II had died after its post went viral on Tuesday.

Hollywood Unlocked raised eyebrows with what it claimed was an exclusive report from “sources close to the Royal Kingdom,” days after Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had tested positive for COVID-19. Jason Lee, the site’s founder, tweeted earlier on Wednesday that “we don’t post lies” and “I always stand by my sources,” adding that he’s “staying tuned” for an “official statement from the Palace.”

Representatives for Buckingham Palace and Hollywood Unlocked, respectively, did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment, but there has been no official confirmation that this report is true. And, according to ITV News’ royal producer Lizzie Robinson, the Queen had her weekly audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening over the phone.

It’s also highly unlikely the world will learn of the Queen’s death from a gossip site. There have been rigid plans put in place by the palace, detailing everything from who will first be informed to what songs UK radio stations can play before announcing the news.

Buckingham Palace has a plan for when the Queen dies: ‘Operation London Bridge’

Queen Elizabeth is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having spent 70 years on the British throne. The palace has spent decades preparing for her death with an operation with the code name “London Bridge.”

When the Queen dies, the message “London Bridge is down” will first be sent to the prime minister and specific UK government officials, Guardian reporter Sam Knight first reported in 2017. The 15 governments outside the UK where the Queen is also head of state will then be informed, as will the 36 other nations in the Commonwealth, according to the Guardian.

Then, the same report says, an official announcement will be released to the British press which, much like Buckingham Palace, has been preparing for the day for decades. According to the Guardian, royal experts have already signed contracts to speak exclusively about the Queen’s death wth specific news channels. Over at the BBC, the broadcaster’s radio alert transmission system — first established in the Cold War in case the nation went under attack — will activate, the Guardian reported.

According to the same report, when UK radio stations are informed of the news, their blue “obit lights” will begin to flash, and DJs will immediately switch to “inoffensive music.”

“Every station, down to hospital radio, has prepared music lists made up of ‘Mood 2’ (sad) or ‘Mood (1)’ (saddest) songs to reach for in times of sudden mourning,” Knight wrote in his Guardian piece.

In the event that the Queen dies overnight, her death will be announced at 8 a.m. local time, according to The Daily Beast.

It’s worth noting that last time a British monarch died — King George VI back in 1952 (code name “Hyde Park Corner”) — there was no social media to contend with, so it’s possible that the news of the Queen’s death could spread quickly and unexpectedly.

The country will then enter a national period of mourning which is expected to last up to 12 days.

When Prince Philip died in April 2021, news anchors changed into black clothes to announce the news and the public left flowers and tributes outside his royal residences. It’s likely this will happen when the Queen dies as well.

As Insider’s Rob Price previously reported, the stock markets and banks are likely to close during this time, with both the funeral and the subsequent coronation becoming formal national holidays.

Prince Charles will be crowned King, and Camilla will become Queen consort

As the Queen’s eldest son, Prince Charles is first in line to the British throne and will become the King when the Queen dies. His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, is likely to be given the title of Queen consort.

In a statement to the public on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022, Queen Elizabeth II expressed her wish for Camilla to be given the title of queen when Charles takes the throne.

The couple’s coronation will likely take place months or even a year after the Queen’s death.

Princes Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, standing next to each other and smiling at the camera,

 

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the Museo del Oro Zenu in 2014.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As King, Charles will take over the monarch’s official duties, which involve hosting a weekly audience with the prime minister, signing bills, and giving a speech at the State Opening of Parliament, which marks the formal start of the parliamentary year.

The UK public will have to get used to changes, too. For example, British bank notes will be changed to replace the Queen’s portrait with Charles’ portrait. However, this will likely take a few years. While the Queen succeeded her father King George VI in 1952, she didn’t appear on a Bank of England note until 1960.

The British national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” will revert to the male version of the son, “God Save the King,” which was used before she ascended to the throne.

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