UK dispatch: death of Queen Elizabeth II sets constitutional succession process in motion Dispatches
UK dispatch: death of Queen Elizabeth II sets constitutional succession process in motion

Syed Taha Anzar is a UK staff correspondent for JURIST. He is a second year student in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford.

The United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and much of the rest of the world have unfortunately entered a state of mourning. “London Bridge” has fallen. The Queen has died.

Great Britain has always been a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen as the Head of State for the last 70 years. Any legislation passed by Parliament required her royal assent; the use of any prerogative powers first required her approval. As such, the constitutional importance of the monarch necessitates a rigid set of procedures that must be followed before the country can stand once more.

The accession process has been meticulously planned out. As soon as any monarch dies, their successor immediately becomes the Head of State. Nevertheless, an Accession Council is typically formed within a day of the demise of the Crown to formally declare the new monarch, who must take an oath under the early 18th century Act of Union relating to the security of the Church of Scotland.

Parliament will be impacted by the Queen’s passing as well. Whilst it appears that Parliament has a legal duty to continue running after demise, a suspension is typical. After the demise of King George VI in 1952, Parliament was suspended out of respect. Additionally, whilst it may legally not be required, many reports say that regular parliamentary business stays suspended for a mourning period of 10 days. All members of parliament must “take the oath of allegiance to the new Sovereign”.

Practically, a number of legal and official changes to the lives of Britons will be happening over the coming years. Passports will all need to be updated, as they currently have numerous references to ‘Her Majesty’. New currency will be printed, with the face of the next monarch, Charles III, being portrayed instead.

The vast majority of people in the United Kingdom have lived their whole life under Queen Elizabeth II, and what comes next is unprecedented and uncertain. She will be missed by many, and hopefully honoured in the decades to come.