What Will Happen In Australia After the Death of Queen Elizabeth II?

What Will Happen In Australia After the Death of Queen Elizabeth II?
(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Queen Elizabeth II has unfortunately received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. It’s believed the virus was passed on to the monarch as a result of a possible outbreak at Windsor castle.

While details on the Queen’s condition appear to be minimal, it has been reported that the statement from the royal family shared she has been experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms”. In fact, it’s been stated 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth will even continue performing “light duties” through her illness.

“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines,” the statement read.

Now, while the news we have so far indicate Queen Elizabeth II is faring with COVID rather well at this point, it of course has brought up questions about her health in general and what protocols follow in the event of her passing.

Terms like ‘how old is the Queen’, ‘is the Queen dying?’ and even ‘did Queen Elizabeth pass away in 2021?’ are seeing a jump in search popularity on Google as a result of current events. While, thankfully, the news is not dire at present, we thought we answer a few questions regarding the traditions surrounding the death of a monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II’s time as monarch

Queen Elizabeth death
Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by Steve Reigate – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926. At the time of writing, the Queen is 95 years of age – though her birthday (her real birthday, not the holiday date) is not all that far.

She has acted as Queen of the United Kingdom since February 6, 1952 – that’s 70 years. For most of us, Queen Elizabeth is the only British ruler we’ve ever seen on the throne. Her father, King George VI was only 56 when he died.

What happens in the event of Queen Elizabeth II’s death?

As you may assume, there is a very regimented plan in place for the passing of a reigning monarch.

The Guardian reported a few years back that once Queen Elizabeth II has passed, Charlies will become king and the Queen’s private secretary will communicate the news to the British Prime Minister using the coded message: “London Bridge is down”.

From here, the 15 governments where the Queen stands as the head of state (this includes Australia) will be notified, followed by the remaining nations in the Commonwealth.

Formerly, the BBC would be notified first of a royal death but according to The Guardian, this is no longer the case, with the announcement now going out to the Press Association and worldwide media via news release.

A series of ceremonial acts will play out across London

Tradition asks that a footman dressed in mourning attire will attach a notice of Her Majesty’s passing on the gates of Buckingham Palace, and an announcement will be made on the royal family’s official website.

Bells will toll across the city, including Westminster Abbey’s tenor bell, and flags will be lowered to half-mast. Ten days of mourning will commence. During this time, it’s expected the Queen’s coffin will be kept in Westminster Abbey where the public may pay their respects (how this will roll out with COVID, however, we’re not sure). A state funeral will be held by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In Australia, there are specific rules in place following the Queen’s death also

Flags will fly at half-mast here in Australia, also. Once the news has been received by the government, Parliament will meet.

According to reports from The Australian, the governor-general of Australia will announce the accession of a new monarch and the Prime Minister will issue a speech. Both are normally expected to travel to London for the funeral proceedings.

The outlet reports that The Australian Defence Force will also take part in a series of gun salutes in correspondence with events in London. A 41-gun salute will be fired from Hyde Park, London.

What is the protocol when it comes to Prince Charles?

Charles is expected to address the nation the evening of the date of the Queen’s passing. He will likely become King Charles III, though he may choose another “ruling” name. As we recently learnt, it has been confirmed that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be queen consort when her husband Prince Charles takes on the throne.

When Charles married Camilla, her initial proposed title was “princess consort” – to appease a disappointed public who remained very much loyal to Princess Diana. However, during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, she shared it was her “sincere wish” that Camilla be crowned Queen Camilla.

The new king will be proclaimed 24 hours after the Queen’s death and flags will be returned to full mast. It is also believed that Prince William will take the title of Prince of Wales after this point.

The coronation will occur a few months from that point, allowing for a mourning period.

The list of events is long and detailed and is something we haven’t seen roll out since the passing of King George in 1952. What’s certain is this will be a major moment in history, and one that few of us have experienced before.

If you’d like to see more detail, check out The Guardian’s full exploration in its 2017 piece here.

This article on the death of Queen Elizabeth II has been updated since its original publish date to clarify the most recent reports regarding Camilla’s future title. 


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