Queen Elizabeth has already broken records as the longest-reigning monarch, not just in Great Britain, but throughout the world. The queen took the throne at age 25 after her father, King George VI, passed away in 1952, and she has ruled for over seven decades, providing a sense of stability when during some of England's most tumultuous times.
But ahead of her 92nd birthday, it's hard not to wonder what's next for the crown. The obvious answer is that her son, Prince Charles, the next in line for the throne, would become the next King of England. His son, Prince William, would continue to serve under his father, and likely assume his title, Prince of Wales. But Charles is not without scandals of his own, and at 69 years of age, he would be the oldest monarch at the start of his reign in England's history.
Since Charles's divorce from Princess Diana after his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, public opinion of the royal has declined. While the prince was able to stay a part of the royal family after his divorce and subsequent remarriage, that was not the case for other royals in decades past. His grandfather's brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated from the throne in order to marry American Wallis Simpson, a divorcee.
"You must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love," Edward said in stepping down from his royal duties. "I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only upon the single thought of what would, in the end, be best for all."
His younger brother, Albert, became King George VI, taking the crown in 1937 and ruling for 15 years before his death from lung cancer, at which point Princess Elizabeth assumed the role, becoming Queen Elizabeth II.
While Prince Charles is the likely choice to take the throne, as the longest heir apparent in Britain's history, he would have the option to abdicate in favor of his son, 35-year-old Prince William, becoming the next King of England. While largely unprecedented, the move would provide the country some stability with a younger king—and hopefully a longer reign—as it untangles itself from the European Union.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: Queen Elizabeth would surely be missed.