Charles, 73, Proclaimed As King After Queen Elizabeth's Passing

Ryan Ford
Prince Charles
Flickr | The White House/Adam Schultz

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, has passed away at age 96. Surrounded by family, The Queen passed peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, according to a statement by the Royal Family.

The death of The Queen puts into action a series of long-planned protocols, known as Operation London Bridge. It also puts into motion the royal succession plan — and that should remain in focus for some time yet.

Britain has a new monarch: Queen Elizabeth's 73-year-old son, Charles.

prince charles in a grey suit and striped tie
Wikimedia Commons | Dan Marsh

Although he has yet to be formally crowned king, His Majesty is now effectively King, and the Royal Family confirmed it in a tweet.

He and other family members had all been taking on more responsibilities from The Queen as she grew advanced in years and her health declined.

Along with the title, King Charles III also inherits considerable land and assets.

King Charles released a statement following his mother's death.

"The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family," he wrote.

"We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.

"During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held." 

Camilla will be known as Queen Consort.

Camilla waving as Prince Charles tries to usher her inside
Giphy | BBC

Although Camilla, Charles's second wife, signed an agreement prior to their wedding in 2005 stating that she would go by princess consort rather than queen, Queen Elizabeth announced that Camilla would take the title at her Platinum Jubilee.

Although Charles has already assumed his new title as King, there are still many formalities.

Queen Elizabeth walking away after her coronation
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As the BBC explained, first, there's the matter of an Accession Council, which should happen within 24 hours of Queen Elizabeth's death.

The Accession Council will issue a proclamation, and a fanfare of trumpets and gun salutes will accompany a formal public announcement and a call-out of "God Save the King."

The coronation is expected to be months away, as it tends to be a large event requiring considerable planning. Although Queen Elizabeth took the throne in February 1952, for example, her coronation wasn't until June of 1953.

Given King Charles's own age, the royal succession plan remains important.

Queen Elizabeth II waving at her coronation
Giphy |

King Charles will certainly not reign for as long as his mother. Queen Elizabeth was just 25 years old when her father, King George VI, passed away, making her reign as Queen 70 years long.

King Charles would have to live to be 143 to serve such a term. Still, if he reaches his mother's age, he could reign for another 23 years.

Nevertheless, that begs the question of who is next in line to succeed King Charles III on the throne.

Prince William leaving Parliament following the Queen's Speech
Flickr | ukhouseoflords / Annabel Moeller

Rather than his brother, Prince Andrew, the next in line is King Charles's own eldest son, William.

William becomes the heir to the throne at age 40 — by contrast, Charles has been heir since he was just three years old.

Second in line is William's first-born son, Prince George, who is nine years old.

Royal Family including Prince George in formal attire, with Queen Elizabeth waving
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Again, the heir's brother gets passed by in favor of a son. In fact, Prince Harry is fifth in the line of succession, following William, George, and William's two other children, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4.

Charles's brother, Prince Andrew, is eighth in the line, following Prince Harry's children, Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana.

And of course, the line of succession can still change.

Queen Elizabeth saying "We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return."
Giphy |

Births or deaths in the family can alter the line of succession. And, Charles could always choose to retire or abdicate the throne and pass the crown along to William before his death.

h/t: The Washington Post