What happens when King Charles III dies?


In recent years, the British monarchy has adopted a string of modern traditions and left quite a few old-fashioned traditions behind.

However, one of the older customs that is still often practiced today by the British royal family is the use of code words for major events.

An example of this is “Operation London Bridge”, which was the code name for the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II, while “Operation Golden Orb” was a special name for Charles’ coronation ceremony.

However, the code name that is on people’s lips these days is “Operation Menai Bridge”, which will be put into effect should King Charles III die.

Although it may still be years before “Operation Menai Bridge” has to come into force, this code name and subsequent plans have already been put down on paper long before Charles’ coronation in 2023.

The British royal house announced earlier this month that King Charles III had been diagnosed with cancer. This diagnosis comes after he received treatment for an enlarged prostate in January this year.

There is currently secrecy about the type of cancer with which the king was diagnosed, but it is known that his youngest son, Prince Harry, who has been living in the USA for the past few years, visited his father in England.

“The king himself said during his acceptance speech that he was going to take on the role for as long as life allowed him,” Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, told in 2022 Today said during the serious planning phase of “Operation Menai Bridge”.

“He is 73 (now 75) years old, it (death) must be in the back of his mind. And from the police’s side, we have to start planning for the future.”

It refers not only to the king’s death, but how it will be announced, the period of mourning and details about his funeral. However, the finer details of the plan are still a secret.

What is already known is that after Charles’ death, Camilla will still be considered a “queen”, although Princess Catherine will bear the official title of queen.

“Camilla will then be known as the ‘queen dowager’,” says Wesley Kerr, former royal correspondent for the BBC.

“Anyway, she has her own house in Gloucestershire called Ray Mill. This is her own personal property that she already owned before she and Charles were married. She is quite well off in her own right, and I suspect that she will (after Charles’s death) remain in Clarence House and have a limited number of royal responsibilities.”

Why Menai Bridge?

The Menai Bridge spans the Straits of Menai between the island of Anglesey and Wales, where Charles was prince for decades. It was completed in 1826 and designed by Thomas Telford.

“Operation London Bridge” was already laid out in the 1960s for the day Queen Elizabeth would die, although over the years the plan has been scraped and scrapped.

In later years, another plan, “Operation Unicorn”, was added, specifically intended for if the queen died in Scotland, which eventually happened.

Queen Elizabeth’s death and mourning period cost the British government about £162 million (about R3 billion), while Charles and Camilla’s coronation ceremony cost around £125 million (about R2.9 billion).

If Charles were to die, one can only wonder if the subsequent funeral and coronation ceremony of William and Kate will make a similar hole in Britons’ wallets.

Other interesting codenames in British history

The code name “Hyde Park Corner” was used for the death of King George IV in 1952, while “Operation Tay Bridge” was put into effect after Queen Elizabeth, the then Queen Mother, died in 2002.

“Operation Forth Bridge” was launched after the death of Prince Philip in 2021.

The Queen Mother’s funeral had already been planned for decades, and these plans could therefore be used in the same way with the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Additional resources: Women and home, Yahoo News, BBC News