Inside the Complex System in Place for When King Charles III Dies

the prince of wales and the duchess of cornwall attend
Inside the System in Place for When Charles DiesWPA Pool - Getty Images

King Charles, man who loves himself a squirrel and cannot abide a pen, became England's monarch the moment Queen Elizabeth died (he had his ~official~ formal coronation on May 6 btw). But given that King Charles is 74 (a young and healthy 74, but still!), it's pretty inevitable that we'll see his son Prince William become the King of England in our lifetime. And, turns out, there's a detailed plan in place for when that happens—complete with its own codename. Fingers crossed that said plan isn't activated anytime soon, but here's what we know.

There's a Code Name for King Charles' Death

Plans for King Charles' death and state funeral are referred to as "Operation Menai Bridge" (named after a suspension bridge in Wales). And actually, there's a reference to it on The Crown during an episode about Charles' near-miss with an avalanche. The scene in question involves the Queen's secretary briefing her on Charles and somewhat indelicately musing, "We have contingency plans in place for all members of the royal family, Menai Bridge is no exception. It's the code name for the Death of the Prince of Wales."

menai suspension bridge
Epics - Getty Images

So yeah, these plans have been in place for a quite some time. And while Menai Bridge is under lock-and-key, we have two things to go on: (1) The Guardian’s reporting on the plans that were set in place following the Queen's death, and (2) the fact that we saw with our own eyes exactly what happened in the 11 days between QEII's passing and her funeral.

What Happens on the Day the King Dies

Arrangements for Charles' funeral started being planned pretty much right after he became King—at least, according to former Royal Protection Officer Simon Morgan.

"Unfortunately, as of tomorrow morning planning for Operation Menai Bridge will start in earnest," Morgan told Today on September 20, 2022 and added that, "Even the King said in his acceptance that he will take this role for as long as life allows him to. He is 73 years of age, it's got to be in the back of your mind, and from the police, we've got to start planning again for the future."

Operation Menai Bridge details haven't been leaked as of yet, but they'll likely be very similar to Operation London Bridge—the code name used for the Queen's death. Meaning that on the day King Charles dies, his family will be informed followed by the prime minister (currently Rishi Sunak). News will then travel to Commonwealth countries and governments where the King is head of state, and finally the press association.

When the Queen died on September 8, 2022, a source told The Telegraph that, "The King was adamant that the official statement must not be released until all members of the family had been informed. That was a father talking because he cares."

That said, the Queen's passing was pretty wildly known before outlets like the BBC reported on it. This was, in part, because Buckingham Palace had released a statement earlier that day saying, "Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen's doctors are concerned for Her Majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral."

But no matter the order in which people find out, once King Charles dies, a note will be pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace. (We saw this happen when Queen Elizabeth passed.)

queen elizabeth ii dies at balmoral castle
Leon Neal - Getty Images

Flags will also be lowered to half mast—as they were for the Queen.

queen elizabeth ii dies at balmoral castle
Leon Neal - Getty Images

William Will Immediately Be King

Prince William's coronation won't happen for months after his father passes, but he’ll be the new King the moment Charles dies. William will likely give an address to the nation that same day and will swiftly start meeting with government officials. Meanwhile, King Charles' body will be moved from Buckingham Palace’s throne room to Westminster Hall, where he will "lie in state," as we saw with the Queen.

lying in state of her majesty queen elizabeth ii at westminster hall
WPA Pool - Getty Images

King Charles' funeral will take place ~nine days after his death (the Queen's was held 11 days after her death), and then he will be laid to rest in the "royal vault" in King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.

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