How NZ will respond to Queen Elizabeth II's death

Death comes for everyone - even the Queen.

With her 91st birthday looming, there's been talk about how the world's longest-reigning female monarch will be mourned upon her eventual death.

The Guardian recently published the secret protocols for the British government for when Queen Elizabeth II dies in all its fine minutiae.

But what will happen in New Zealand? An Official Information Act request shows just what will happen when our Head of State eventually dies. 

New Zealand's initial response will follow the UK's lead.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet released their response to the OIA request from Peter Sime on Monday.

The Cabinet Office will lead the official response and says many New Zealanders will want to pay their respects to the Queen - who will be the only monarch Kiwis would have known in their lifetimes.

In the age of fake news and social media, the Cabinet Office says New Zealand's official commemorations will only be triggered once the news is confirmed by Buckingham Palace.

That'll come from "established communication channels" between the Palace and New Zealand.

Once confirmed, the Prime Minister and the Governor-General will be informed.

Upon her death, the first in line to the throne will immediately succeed the Queen, who in February celebrated her 65-year reign. At this point, that means Prince Charles will become King Charles.

The change in monarch will not affect the normal sitting schedule of the New Zealand parliament and there won't be any formal actions needed to confirm the new post.

The Constitution Act 1986 means all of a Sovereign's powers will be transferred to their successor, but it won't change anything else in relation to New Zealand law.

And when it comes to public tributes for the monarch, the Cabinet Office says it's important New Zealanders get an opportunity to pay their respects.

Those opportunities aren't set in stone, and will be decided by the Prime Minister of the day, however, they could include the following:

  • lowering flags to half-mast from the day of death until after the State Memorial Service
  • a ceremony to proclaim the accession of the new King
  • acknowledging the death of the Queen in Parliament
  • a State Memorial Service
  • a 21-gun salute
  • the opening of a condolence book

But commemorations won't be limited to what the Government decides to do.

The Cabinet Office says it'll be likely churches, local bodies and other organisations may choose to mark the Queen's death "in their own way".