Queen Elizabeth II is no more: Prince Charles becomes the new king of the UK. Within hours, Prince Charles, the eldest of Elizabeth’s four children, will be formally proclaimed king in a ceremony dating back hundreds of years. At 73, he is the oldest person to accede to the throne in British history.
The royal family says he will remain at Balmoral on Thursday evening and “will return to London tomorrow.” He can simply add “King” to his name and become King Charles III, or he can pick another name that fits with British royal tradition. His middle names are Philip, Arthur and George, so he’s got a few options there — although “King Arthur I” would be a bold choice.
Flags are already flying at half mast as the country embarks on a period of national mourning. Normal politics will be suspended as tributes flow in from around the world. In London, the Queen’s coffin will be placed in Westminster Hall prior to her state funeral, which will be marked by a public holiday.
The next two weeks will be a jolt for a country accustomed to being ruled by the same monarch for more than 70 years — longer than 85% of the population has been alive. Charles will now have to steer the near-immutable institution of monarchy in a country that has altered beyond recognition since his mother’s accession. His kingdom faces potential breakup as Scotland presses for independence and an uncertain position in the world after leaving the European Union.
Becoming monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth realms from Canada to Australia will allow him to answer a question that has followed him for decades: after a lifetime of outspoken interventions in public life, what kind of king will he be?
In the immediate days, he faces the twin challenges of personal bereavement and leading the nation in mourning.
“He will be focused on the personal and the family, but for the palaces, it will be a question of [choosing] the right things to say and do that lead the nation in mourning but also establish the first steps of the new reign,” said another former aide.
Charles, they added, had a “deep emotional facility” with bereaved people, which they predicted would serve him and the country well in any period of mourning.
The queen’s funeral
Queen Elizabeth’s coffin will be transported to Buckingham Palace. Tributes will pour in over the next few days, and she’ll eventually lie in state at the Palace of Westminster for three days before her funeral, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Politico a few years ago.
That funeral will likely happen 10 days after her death, possibly on September 18 or 19 at Westminster Abbey, according to the long-established plan. That date will be declared a national day of mourning.
Charles and the rest of the royal family will be at the funeral along with many others, and security will be super tight for one of the biggest state funerals the country has ever seen.
The queen will be buried at Windsor Castle in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, which is named after her father.