The death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday makes most of the UK population – and indirectly most of the world – experience something unprecedented: the death of a British monarch and its succession to the throne. Taking place just a few months after she celebrated 70 years on the throne, this event brings many questions about what the next days and months in the British monarchy will be like.

The entire protocol that follows the death of the monarch, however, has been prepared by the Royal Family since at least the 1960s. Called Operation London Bridge, the plan includes everything from how the announcement of the Queen's death was made, to the official mourning period, the details of her funeral and the preparations for the coronation of her successor.

On Thursday night, the official statement of Elizabeth II's death, released by Buckingham Palace, was signed by “King Charles III”, the title chosen by the Queen's eldest son to succeed her on the throne.

Despite mourning his mother's death, Charles will have a Friday full of official duties. His day will begin with a trip from Balmoral, where he spent the night with family members after his mother's death, to London. In the capital, he will have an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss, a meeting with the Earl Marshal (the Duke of Norfolk) to discuss the details of the funeral and make a televised address to the nation in the early evening.

Throughout the day, the British government will confirm the length of national mourning – which is expected to be around 12 days, ending one day after the Queen's funeral. In Hyde Park, central London, a gun salute of 96 rounds – one for each year of the Queen's life – will be fired in her honour. The Prime Minister and senior officials are expected to attend a public service of remembrance at St Paul's Cathedral.

The funeral

According to Operation London Bridge, the Queen's coffin is expected to be flown next Tuesday from Scotland to London, where it will spend the night at Buckingham Palace. The following day, the coffin will be taken in a ceremonial procession through London to the Houses of Parliament, where the Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct a short service.

The coffin will lie on display in Westminster Hall for four days and can be visited by the public for 23 hours a day.

On Monday, September 19, the Queen's funeral will begin with her coffin being borne on a gun carriage in a procession to Westminster Abbey. A two-minute silence will take place across the UK at noon.

After the one-hour service, a large ceremonial procession will accompany the coffin to Hyde Park, where it will be transferred to a state hearse and travel to Windsor. After a procession through the streets of Windsor, a committal service will be held at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Later, Elizabeth will be buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex to the main chapel – where her mother and father were buried, along with the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

The coffin of Prince Philip, Elizabeth's husband who died in April 2021, will later be moved from the Royal Vault to the memorial chapel to stand beside the Queen.

No interregnum

Following the Latin maxim “Rex nunquam moritur” – the king never dies – Charles' accession to the British throne occurred immediately after his mother's death. The process of making him officially King Charles III, however, must follow a protocol that will conclude with his coronation in the coming months.

On Saturday morning, the Accession Council will meet at St. James' Palace to proclaim Charles III the new sovereign. Then the first public proclamation of the new king will be read from the Friary Court balcony at St James's Palace by the Garter King of Arms.

The proclamation will then be read at St. James' Palace and the Royal Exchange in the City of London, confirming Charles as King.

His coronation ceremony, however, is not likely to take place for several months. His mother's coronation, for example, which was attended by heads of state from all over the world, took place 16 months after the death of her father, King George VI, and her ascension to the throne.