"The Queen Is Dead; Long Live The Queen" is an old and familiar saying.
According to a wild but strangely compelling theory on social media, that may have taken on a new meaning.
Following a serious health crisis, the Queen has not been seen in person by the public in months, and Charles will make her annual Christmas address.
The theory is that 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has already died, but that this is being kept secret for a pretty good reason.
We here at THG do not necessarily endorse this theory, but we thought that it was worth examination.
Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926. She is Britain's oldest monarch.
She is also the nation's longest-reigning monarch. Next year, she will have ruled for 70 years.
That upcoming milestone -- on February 6, 2022 -- is actually part of this theory.
But the main reason that people on social media believe that Queen Elizabeth II may have passed away is that she has been a (non-literal) ghost lately.
Before we go into the details and the dates on which she was officially last seen, let's look at what people on social media are speculating.
As far as the public is concerned, the Queen has not been seen in a while.
She was hospitalized overnight in October, which the Palace characterized as precautionary.
Despite that, she has not been out and about since then.
She is also not scheduled to make her usual Christmas address.
For decades, this has been part of her signature role as mascot-slash-head-of-state, to the point of occassional ridicule.
Instead, her son, Prince Charles, will give the address -- which is, as the youths say, pretty sus.
But one could argue that there is little practical difference between the Queen being dead and simply absent if Charles gives the address.
So what possible motive would the royal family have to lie?
The first, simplest answer is a desire to not "ruin" Christmas with this news.
Another complication is that, by law, the BBC cannot air comedies for a period of time following the Queen's death.
That is categorically absurd -- but then, so are many facets of the monarchy.
It is possible that the Palace hopes to wait until early 2022 in order to keep this period of mandatory national mourning from coinciding with the holidays.
There is an entire plan in place, called Operation London Bridge, for what happens -- step-by-step -- when the Queen dies.
This is not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact. The plan is regularly updated, and there are similar plans for other prominent royals.
What is a conspiracy theory is the idea that Elizabeth II is being Weekend at Bernie's-ed by Kensington Palace until next year or her reign hits 70 years.
As far as the facts are concerned, the Queen spent the night at the hospital in October of 2021.
She returned to Windsor Castle on October 22, with Buckingham Palace referring to the medical treatment as "preliminary investigations."
It was claimed that she was in good spirits and had already returned to work.
Allegedly, the Queen embarked upon a private vacation -- a weekend getaway to Sandringham estate.
She returned to Windsor Castle on November 9, more than one month ago.
She was not necessarily seen doing these things by the public, but that is the official claim.
On November 1, the Queen addressed COP26 attendees ... but she did this over video, with other "behind-the-scenes" footage posted to Instagram.
It may sound like a wild conspiracy theory -- because, technically, it is.
But this theory is not particularly dangerous and, of all of the organizations in the world, the British Monarchy is deeply shady and may consider it a sacred obligation to lie about certain things.