THE QUEEN’S PLAN B: HER SUR­PRISE DE­CI­SION

THE QUEEN HAS BEEN QUI­ETLY LET­TING GO OF A NUM­BER OF HER DU­TIES

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -

It’s yet an­other re­mark­able milestone in the record­break­ing reign of Her Majesty the Queen. Last week marked the 65th an­niver­sary of her corona­tion in June

1953, but it passed with­out any ma­jor cel­e­bra­tions.

The Queen, whose in­vesti­ture as monarch was held 16 months af­ter suc­ceed­ing her fa­ther,

King Ge­orge VI on his death, is said to pre­fer to re­mem­ber such events with some “quiet re­flec­tion” at home.

But what the an­niver­sary has done is raise spec­u­la­tion yet again that she may not be sov­er­eign for much longer. There’s been so much talk about the Queen step­ping down from her role that book­ies in the UK have slashed the odds on her

ab­di­cat­ing from 5-1 to 2-1.

Harry Aitken­head from betting agency Corals says, “This year has been, and will con­tinue to be, a mon­u­men­tal year for the royal fam­ily and while the Queen shows no signs of slow­ing down at the mo­ment, there is ev­ery chance she may choose to step down and spend more time with her fam­ily.”

Her Majesty’s hus­band

Prince Philip, who has just turned 97, is get­ting in­creas­ingly frail, and it would come as no sur­prise if she wanted to spend more time with him. He retired from pub­lic du­ties last year and see­ing him lead­ing a more re­laxed life may be tempt­ing her to do the same.

Many peo­ple in­sist the 92-year-old monarch will never ab­di­cate, but she could ap­ply a “get-out” clause that would en­able her heir Prince Charles (69) to reign while she is still alive, so she could ef­fec­tively re­tire. The Re­gency Act of

1937 has a sec­tion that says some­one else can take over

“in the event of in­ca­pac­ity of the sov­er­eign through ill­ness, and for the per­for­mance of cer­tain royal func­tions in the name and on be­half of the sov­er­eign in cer­tain other events”.

Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, in­vok­ing the Re­gency Act is some­thing the Queen is said to be con­tem­plat­ing once she gets to her mid-nineties.

Ac­cord­ing to a for­mer se­nior mem­ber of the royal house­hold, plans are al­ready in place for a tran­si­tion of power to Charles. “I un­der­stand the Queen has given the mat­ter con­sid­er­able thought and be­lieves that, if she is still alive at 95, she will se­ri­ously con­sider pass­ing the reign to Charles.”

In re­cent years, the monarch has been grad­u­ally hand­ing over some of her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to younger fam­ily mem­bers, in par­tic­u­lar Charles, and this has been seen as a sign that she’s more than ready to let go of many of the du­ties she’s faith­fully car­ried out dur­ing her 66 years on the throne.

For ex­am­ple, she has cut overseas vis­its out of her sched­ule and now sends other mem­bers of the fam­ily on trips to the Com­mon­wealth.

Con­cern was sparked in

April when she told the lead­ers of Com­mon­wealth na­tions at the CHOGM meet­ing in Lon­don that she hoped they would choose Charles to suc­ceed her as the head of the Com­mon­wealth (the role does not au­to­mat­i­cally go to the Bri­tish monarch). Thanks to her bring­ing up the sub­ject, he has now been des­ig­nated the next leader. Her in­ter­ven­tion in this mat­ter was seen as a sign that she wanted Charles to pre­pare for the lead­er­ship po­si­tion sooner rather than later.

Her grand­son, Prince Harry (33), has also been given an im­por­tant role, with the

Queen ap­point­ing him as a Com­mon­wealth Youth Am­bas­sador shortly be­fore his wed­ding. Again, it is viewed as a way of train­ing a fam­ily mem­ber to take on ex­tra work so the load can be shared.

With Harry and his brother Prince Wil­liam (35) hav­ing long since put their ca­reers be­hind them – Harry in the army, Wil­liam as a search and res­cue pi­lot – and tak­ing on more royal du­ties, and Charles keen to get on with the job into which he was born, the Queen has ex­cel­lent back-up.

But other sources in­sist that while she may be happy for the next gen­er­a­tions to do some of her more tax­ing jobs, she will never give up her po­si­tion com­pletely, un­less she is com­pletely in­ca­pac­i­tated.

Dickie Ar­biter, who was her press sec­re­tary for 12 years, says ab­di­ca­tion is in­con­ceiv­able. He says she will stick to the state­ment she made when she turned 21 and an­nounced, “I de­clare… that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be de­voted to your ser­vice.”

“The Queen made a very com­mit­ted state­ment on her 21st birth­day and she has re­peated that sev­eral times dur­ing her reign,” says Dickie.

On why the Queen wears bright colours – ‘ I have to be seen to be be­lieved’

The Queen’s milestone an­niver­sary passed with­out ma­jor fan­fare.

Wav­ing to well-wish­ers from the bal­cony of Buck­ing­ham Palace af­ter her corona­tion. Prince Philip retired from pub­lic du­ties last year, so who could blame the Queen if she wanted to spend more time with him?

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