THE QUEEN’S PLAN B: HER SURPRISE DECISION
THE QUEEN HAS BEEN QUIETLY LETTING GO OF A NUMBER OF HER DUTIES
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?