By Daisy Hall

What Happens Next If King Charles III Passes Away?

After King Charles III was diagnosed with cancer, here are the details of the plan in place should he pass away.
King Charles III
Pictures via Getty Images

In sad news revealed yesterday in a statement by Buckingham Palace, King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer.

The official statement read, ‘During The King’s recent hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer.

‘His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.

‘The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.

‘His Majesty has chosen to share his diagnosis to prevent speculation and in the hope it may assist public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer.’

Naturally, there was an outpouring of support for King Charles with everyone from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to football pundit Gary Lineker sending their well wishes.

But as well as the support, a lot of questions also arose around what King Charles’ cancer diagnosis means for the UK.

King Charles III
Pictures via Getty Images

What happens if The King dies?

Should King Charles III die, the first step will be to inform the rest of the royal family, followed by the Prime Minister – currently Rishi Sunak. Eventually, the press (and therefore the public) will be informed. A note announcing King Charles’ passing will also be pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace and flags will be lowered to half-mast.

Prince William will then assume the title ‘King’, but his actual coronation won’t happen until several months later. In the case of King Charles, his coronation occurred in May 2023, eight months after Queen Elizabeth II passed away.

King Charles’ body will then be moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey ahead of his funeral where he will ‘lie in state’ as Queen Elizabeth did, with the public queuing to pay their respects.

What’s the name of the plan for King Charles’ death?

And much like all major operations, there’s a name for the plan for what happens when King Charles dies: Operation Menai Bridge – there’s even a reference to it in The Crown during the family’s skiing holiday.

The name Menai Bridge comes from a suspension bridge in Wales, presumably in reference to King Charles’ formal title The Prince of Wales.

Whilst Operation Menai Bridge has been in place for a while, plans began in earnest immediately after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

What is a regency?

Luckily King Charles’ cancer has seemingly been caught in its early stages, but should he become unable to perform his duties then the question of whether a regency is required arises.

The Regency Act (1937) is essentially a royal protocol stating that should the monarch become incapacitated, then their power would transfer to the next royal family member in line to the throne, in this case, Prince William, without them having to abdicate the throne. Prince William would essentially have all the powers of King Charles, without the official title.

The last time The Regency Act was required was 200 years ago when eventual King George IV became Prince Regent.

In order for The Regency Act to come into effect, three or more of the following must declare its necessity in writing: the sovereign’s wife aka Queen Camilla in this case, the Lord Chancellor (currently The Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP), the Speaker of the House of Commons (Lindsay Hoyle), the Lady Chief Justice (Sue Lascelles Carr, Baroness Carr of Walton-on-the-Hill, DBE, PC) and the Master of the Rolls (Sir Geoffrey Dos). King Charles has no say in the matter and does not need to agree with their decision.

Is there a day off if The King dies?

As with the death of Queen Elizabeth, the UK will not receive a day off if the King dies however the date of his funeral will become a public bank holiday, as will William’s coronation when he becomes King.

What happens to Camilla if King Charles dies?

Should Queen Camilla outlive the King, she will likely take on the title ‘Queen Dowager’ which essentially means ‘the widow of a king’.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla
Pictures via Getty Images

When Elizabeth II’s mother was widowed by the death of King George VI in 1952, his wife Queen Elizabeth became ‘Queen Mother’ – a title that Queen Camilla would not be able to take, as William and Harry’s mother was Princess Diana.

This story first appeared on Grazia Daily UK.