When Does Prince Charles Officially Become King After Queen Elizabeth Dies?

It's no secret that the United Kingdom's monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is a beloved ruler. According to the Independent, in 2015, a poll conducted found that she was considered to be the greatest monarch in British history. She has even become more popular than Queen Victoria I, her great-great-grandmother, who transformed the United Kingdom into an industrialized nation. Though she only beat her by 1% in the poll, it is clear her country adores her.

That was shown in full force this summer as the queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. Events spread out across a weekend in June celebrated the 70 years the queen has been on the throne (via NPR). Fans of the matriarch traveled from all over the world to show their support for the 96-year-old icon.

However, as the queen gets older, many are preparing themselves for that tragic time when she will pass away. Many are wondering what that day will look like and when changes will occur.

What will happen on the day the queen dies?

Politico received documents that outline just what will go down on the day Queen Elizabeth II dies. The day will have a code name, Operation London Bridge, to be exact and will unfold in a very specific way.

The documents show that the first person that will learn of the queen's death is the prime minister. A "call cascade" will go into place, notifying the political leader, the cabinet secretary, and other high-ranking government officials. From there, the media will announce her death. Then, 10 days of scheduled events will unfold leading up to her funeral on the final day. There is a strict script the government will follow.

The queen's coffin will stay at Buckingham Palace until the fifth day, when it will be moved in an hour-long procession to Westminster (per Cosmopolitan). During this time, Prince Charles, who will take over the throne after she passes, will be performing his own ceremonial duties. Just when will he become king, though?

Prince Charles will become king instantly

Prince Charles will become king instantly upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II (via Reader's Digest). He will be performing ceremonial tasks — like touring the country — in the days following his mother's passing, but none of these are essential for taking over the throne.

Nicoletta Gullace, an associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, explained the process. "The moment the queen dies, Charles becomes the sovereign, a quasi-mystical transformation that is marked ceremonially and legally the next day," she said. "The code name for Charles's accession to the throne is Operation Spring Tide. Once the flags have been lowered and the cannons fired, marking the queen's death, the prime minister will hold his first audience with the new king."

There will be an official proclamation of Charles as king the following day at 10 a.m., but he will be given the throne instantly following his mother's death (via Cosmopolitan). A coronation ceremony will take place months, or even a year, following Elizabeth's death.

Is there a chance Prince Charles will not become king when Queen Elizabeth dies?

Rumors are circulating that Prince Charles may not take the throne at all. According to The Sun, Princess Diana's former voice coach, Stewart Pearce, has a theory that Charles does not want to become king and as a result, will pass the throne on to his eldest son, Prince William.

"He [Charles] may not take the throne; he may hand it to his young son," Pearce said. "He doesn't want to do it, such a difficult task." He added that William has been "part of the conversation" when it comes to Charles becoming king since the prince was roughly 12 years old. However, this is not a common practice and may be difficult to put into action.

According to the University College London's Constitution Unit, it would have to play out like this. "That would be a matter for Prince Charles, and for parliament. Under common law, Prince Charles will automatically become King the moment the Queen dies. Prince William could only become King if Prince Charles chose to abdicate. That would require legislation, as happened with the Declaration of Abdication Act 1936. The line of succession is regulated by parliament (as in the Act of Succession 1700, and the Succession to the Crown Act 2013); it can be changed only by parliament and cannot be unilaterally altered by the monarch of the day."