When Queen Elizabeth II died, it marked immediate changes for Britain’s royal family. The ripples made by the death of the U.K.’s longest-reigning monarch even extend to the British National Anthem.
After Elizabeth’s passing, her oldest son immediately became King Charles III. This means that the lyrics, “God Save The Queen” in the country’s national anthem will be changed to “God Save The King.”
The pronouns used throughout the song will also be changed. For instance, the lyric, “Send her victorious,” is now, “Send him victorious,” and, “Long may she reign,” is now, “Long may he reign.”
This is the first time in over 70 years that the anthem has been changed. But now that the throne is held by a man and the line of succession is led by two males, 40-year-old Prince William and 9-year-old Prince George, it may again be decades before “God Save the Queen” is sung in the U.K.
When Elizabeth first took the throne in 1952, the anthem had to be changed from how it had been sung for her father, King George VI. Now that her son has taken over her role, the lyrics have reverted back to what they were before.
“God Save The King,” as it was originally titled, was first publicly performed in London in 1745. It “came to be known as the National Anthem at the beginning of the 19th century,” according to The Royal Family’s website. “The words used today are those sung in 1745, substituting ‘Queen’ for ‘King’ where appropriate.”
However, due to Elizabeth’s long reign, it will no doubt be difficult for Brits to immediately switch to the now-correct lyrics. Royal experts say that we will hear this new anthem for the first time on a national stage on Sept. 23, when England’s men’s national soccer team is set to play against Italy.
In addition to the changing of the national anthem, other changes will also need to be made to accommodate the change at the top of the monarchy. This includes updating the national currency with images of Charles and issuing new stamps. It is expected that Charles, 73, will also get a new personal flag to honor his ascent to the throne, as his mother did in 1960.