Yesterday, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands really let down the sisterhood by announcing she will abdicate the Dutch throne come April 30th. Her mother, Queen Juliana and grandmother, Queen Wilhemina each did the same when they reached their seventies, so when the announcement came yesterday, royal watchers weren’t surprised.
Today, the question on everyone’s mind is: “Will Queen Elizabeth do the same?”
Certainly not. Her Majesty took a vow of duty on June 2nd, 1953 and dedicated her “whole life, whether it be long or short” to serving as sovereign on her 21st birthday. The job is a lifelong commitment and, in my mind, can’t just be passed down to the heir because one grows tired of ruling his or her country.
I emailed Richard Palmer of the Daily Express, a veteran royal reporter whose opinion on the matter I was quite curious about. I asked Palmer if this was at all possible in England, a question I knew the answer to before he even had a chance to respond.
“You never know what might happen,” Palmer wrote, “but we are always led to believe by historians and royal advisers that the Brits just don’t go in for it.
“Edward VIII’s abdication and the crisis surrounding it was such a low point for the monarchy; it’s an anathema to the House of Windsor, we’re told, whereas the Dutch have a history of stepping down.”
Still, Palmer can understand why someone would pass the crown to a younger generation, as Beatrix did yesterday.
“You can see how it makes sense to retire and give way to your younger heir if you are no longer of sound body or mind to perform your duties. But I think the Queen regards it as her religious and constitutional duty to carry on until she drops, not to put too finer point on it.
“If she developed some illness – dementia, for example – that meant she was no longer in a fit state to assess and sign state papers, then I am not sure what would happen then.”
“The most likely scenario, however, remains, that she and Philip will continue to perform their official duties, reducing them slowly and then they will perhaps get to a point, as Victoria did, when the Queen only really shows her face a few times a year – for the state opening of Parliament, for example, and effectively hands over day-to-day control to Charles.”
Prince Charles is the oldest living Prince of Wales in British history. In two years time, Queen Elizabeth will surpass Queen Victoria as the longest-serving British monarch.
PS-How much are you loving this photo of Charles? Check out more laughs on his Facebook page.