Queen is ‘unlikely to abdicate’ says Sacerdoti
Her Majesty was flown by helicopter from Windsor Castle to Sandringham this weekend, where she will spend the next few weeks. A rapid rise in Omicron cases meant she postponed her visit to the Norfolk estate, where she traditionally spends her winter break. Her winter break usually ends after accession day on February 6 — the day her father George VI died 70 years ago.
The anniversary will come as a reflective moment for the monarch ahead of a year of celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
It is not entirely clear which events the Queen, 95, will attend herself. Concerns first arose for her health in the autumn after she spent a night in hospital and doctors ordered her to rest.
Royal expert Dr Ed Owens told Express.co.uk that plans are in place should Her Majesty become “very unwell” and no longer be able to carry out her duties.
He explained that abdication is considered a “bad word” within the Royal Family, due to the events of 1936 when Edward VIII voluntarily abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Queen’s plan for if she becomes ‘very unwell’ based on King George III
The Queen arrives at Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate.
Dr Owens said: “If she was to become very unwell, it might be that Elizabeth II essentially ‘retires’ from all public roles, handing over power and leadership of the monarchy to her successor as part of what is termed a ‘regency’.”
Prince Charles, Prince William, Camilla and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, have all stepped up their duties of late as the Queen scaled back her own schedule.
Dr Owens added: “There is more recent precedent for this going back to the late 18th Century when George III’s eldest son ruled as his proxy due to the monarch’s ill health.”
From 1788, George III’s health deteriorated and he was subject to incapacitating fits which gave the appearance of insanity.
The Queen was flown by helicopter to Sandringham.
It has been suggested that he had blood disease porphyria, though the cause of his mental illness remains unknown.
George III suffered three bouts in 1788, 1801 and 1804 but resumed his role after periods of recuperation.
However, after a fourth attack in late 1810, he became dangerously ill and accepted the need for the Regency Act 1811.
His son, later George IV, served as Prince Regent for the remainder of his life. George III lived in seclusion at Windsor Castle for the remaining nine years of his life.
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King Albert of Belgium attends his abdication.
The Queen made a promise on her 21st birthday back in 1947 that royalty is a “job for life”.
During a tour of South Africa at the time, she made a promise to the nation: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
This means she would not follow the lead of other European monarchs, for whom it is much more common to abdicate.
King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated in June 2014. King Albert of Belgium stepped down in 2013, as did Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Prince Charles has already taken on some of his mother’s duties.
All of the last three Dutch monarchs — Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix — have abdicated.
Dr Owens said British monarchs are unlikely to ever follow suit.
He explained: “I think it is highly unlikely unless a future monarch of Britain is physically unable to perform the role, hence abdication may be considered as an option, or they bring the monarchy into disrepute, for example through some kind of personal scandal, and therefore essentially ‘resign’ and pass on the role of monarch in the hope that it will ensure the survival of the crown.”
When Prince Charles does eventually accede the throne, it will be a very, very different time period to when his mother became Queen.
Dr Owens said: “Britain appears to be a much more divided and angry place than it was back then.
“And there are big political issues that need to be confronted, not least of which is climate change.
“Charles has spoken publicly on this issue for many years so in some respects he will be the right kind of king for this moment.
“It remains to be seen whether he will express the kind of political opinions that he has become accustomed to expressing as Prince of Wales because as constitutional monarch he is not meant to have a political voice.”