The death of Queen Elizabeth II marks a moment of great change for the United Kingdom. After 70 years in power, her son, Charles III is now King. The country is in the process of executing a detailed plan to honor her passing, a plan she even signed off on herself several years ago. The undertaking involves various public and government agencies as well as representatives from the 14 countries where she was also head of state. Flags are being lowered at half-mast through the U.K. and even here in the U.S. While details of the plan are still being revealed, the following actions have been announced:
To commemorate the new head of state, the Accession Council will conduct a time-honored ceremony at the 500-year-old St James’s Palace in London. The proceedings will formally announce the passing of the late monarch while instating Charles III as King. It’s not clear when the coronation will take place. In the case of Queen Elizabeth, she waited 16 months after the death of her father to assume the throne.
The first part of the event is closed to the public, but it is expected to be attended by hundreds of dignitaries and members of the Privy Council, which is a panel of royal advisors. But the coronation of the King will be broadcast live on TV for the first time in history.
The Garter King of Arms will read the Proclamation from the palace balcony during a flurry of gun salutes at Buckingham Palace. There will then be follow-up proclamations throughout London and at the capitals of member countries, including Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. The broadcast will also show King Charles III taking a series of oaths and swearing allegiance to the Church of Scotland. Flags will be returned to full mast once the King has been formally sworn in.
King Charles III’s eldest son William is now next in line for the throne. He inherited the title of Duke of Cornwall from his father. His wife, Kate, is now the Duchess of Cornwall, which she inherited from Charle’s wife Camilla.
Before her passing, the Queen stated that she would like Camilla to be known as Queen Consort. The term refers to the wife of a reigning king, which the U.K. has not had since 1952, when King George VI died and his widow, Queen Elizabeth, became the Queen Mother. It is the Queen Consort’s job to support the King in any way she can.
A public ceremony will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral in the coming days. The royal family will not attend the event. It is designed to be a public space for people to mourn the loss of their Queen. The bells of Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s and Windsor Castle will also toll in the coming days.
According to tradition, all lawmakers in Parliament must also swear an oath of allegiance to the new King within 24 hours of the Queen’s passing.
The Queen will receive a publicly funded funeral, with details being released in the coming days. She passed away at the royal estate in Scotland, and arrangements are being made for her remains to be returned to England.
Previous monarchs were laid to rest in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, which houses the U.K. parliament. Their coffin sits on a raised platform in the middle of the hall that’s guarded around the clock by units from the Sovereign’s Bodyguard, Foot Guards, or the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
The country is also in the process of putting King Charles III’s face on its coins. The Queen’s face currently appears on all 29 million British coins in circulation. And she is facing right in all of them. However, Charles is expected to face left for his portrait because monarchs typically face the opposite direction of their predecessors, as per tradition.
“It may have a practical use in the fact that it obviously marks a difference from the previous reign,” said Nigel Fletcher, a teaching fellow at King’s College London.
But the King’s face may not face left on the country’s bills. The Queen became the first monarch to appear on bank notes in 1960 and there is no precedent for reversing which way the monarch is facing when it comes to bills. It’s also not clear when these changes will be made.
Considering the scale of the undertaking, the process won’t “happen overnight,” said Ethan Ilzetzki, an associate professor at the London School of Economics.
The change will be conducted by the Royal Mint, which produces the country’s currency, but the agency didn’t provide a timeline. “As we respect this period of respectful mourning, we continue to strike coins as usual,” the Royal Mint said.