With her death at 96, Queen Elizabeth, the longest-ruling monarch in the history of Britain, a certain age of history of history has brought to a close. It’s hard to imagine a UK, a Commonwealth, a world without her steady, constant presences.
This, of course, is a massive, massive news story that will go on for days. And centuries of arcane procedures are taking place for the first time in 70 years.
- Her eyes were closed (by someone else, if it was necessary). Charles automatically became king.
- His siblings kissed his hands.
- Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, was the first to deal with the news from the room where she died.
- Geidt contacted the brand-new prime minister, Liz Truss. He gave her the pre-determined code “London Bridge,” signifying that the Queen has died.
- A heads-up was sent out to Canada and 14 other governments.
- The media got the story and started to break the news. I happened to be listening to BBC’s 6 Music when this happened. This was rehearsed many times before today.
It’s now up to the 18th Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshall, to take care of the funeral (Norfolks have had this job since 1672). Someone else will have the job of printing 10,000 tickets for those invited to various events, including the proclamation of King Charles, who, by the way, is 73. He’s been waiting for his chance at succession for longer than anyone else in British history. He will officially be King Charles III.
Prince William, Charles’ eldest and the son of Princess Diana, is now next in line to the throne. After him comes Prince George, William’s 9-year-old son, then it’s Princess Charlotte, George’s sister, who is seven. Then it’s Prince Louis, age four. Prince Harry, William’s brother, is fifth in line.
Oh, and Camilla will become queen, the title that ALWAYS goes to the wife of kings. (Husbands of queens don’t get to be king.) While you may read that Camilla is the “Princess Consort,” that’s crap. No such title exists. But will Britain embrace her as queen? Or will they have to cloak that in some kind of sophistry? We’ll find out before the weekend.
Protocol says that Charles will be proclaimed king at 11 am BST tomorrow. A civil servant named Richard Tilbrook will read this: “Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second of Blessed and Glorious memory…”
For more on what happens when a British monarch dies, go here. It’s fascinating. We are in for a massive spectacle of mourning and succession that will last nearly 10 days (the funeral will be on Day 9).
Meanwhile, get ready for a new face on Canadian money–eventually. There are no immediate plans to change anything–and no, there isn’t a giant stash of cash with Charles’ face on it somewhere. New coins will be struck as necessary. The only bill with the queen’s image is the $20. It’s the next to be redesigned, but that won’t happen for maybe five years. Stamps, on the other hand…