Royal biographer Andrew Morton recently said that the Queen’s reign is “effectively over” because she won’t be able to resume royal duties during the coronavirus pandemic. While Buckingham Palace has long denied claims that the Queen plans to step down, it’s possible that Her Majesty could one day hand power over to Prince Charles, the first in line to the throne.If so, the Queen could trigger the Regency Act, which would give him the title of Prince Regent — “King in all but name,” royal correspondent Robert Jobson told Insider. Another option would be for the Queen to abdicate and make Charles King. This has been done by several modern monarchs, including King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.Insider spoke to experts about what would happen if the Queen decided to retire.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In recent years, there has been speculation as to whether 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth will step down from her role as monarch.This speculation has only increased since royal biographer Andrew Morton said that Her Majesty’s reign is “effectively over” due to the coronavirus pandemic.Speaking to The Telegraph, Morton said: “It’s terribly sad but I can’t see how the Queen can resume her job. The COVID-19 virus isn’t going away soon and will be with us for months if not years.He added that it would be “far too risky for the Queen to start meeting people on a regular basis.”
“The Queen continues to be busy and will follow appropriate advice on engagements,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson previously told Insider when asked about rumors that Her Majesty intends to step back from public life.It’s true that the monarch has continued to serve the country, with behind-the-scenes royal duties and even her first public engagement over video call recently. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that at the age of 94, Her Majesty is one of the most high-risk members of the family. It’s likely going to be a long time before she returns to work in the traditional sense.Prince Charles, first in line to the throne, has remained in the public eye despite contracting and recovering from the coronavirus earlier this year.
He was also — along with the Duchess of Cornwall — one of the first members of the family to perform an in-person engagement since lockdown began.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales performs Namaste with Professor Mark Pietroni during a visit to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on Tuesday.
BEN BIRCHALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Image
Insider spoke to royal experts, who explained what would happen if Her Majesty stepped down in favor of the Prince of Wales.Prince Charles wouldn’t become King, but instead would be granted the title of ‘Prince Regent’It was reported by the Mail on Sunday in 2017 that the Queen was considering passing power over to Prince Charles when she turns 95. That’s just a year from now.According to the publication, the monarch told “her inner circle” that should she still be on the throne at the age of 95, she will ask for a “piece of legislation called the Regency Act to come into force — granting her eldest son full power to reign even while she still lives.”
Robert Jobson, an award-winning royal correspondent for 30 years, believes this to be a major possibility.
Queen Elizabeth places a coronet on Prince Charles’ head at his investiture in 1969.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
“If implemented it would see Charles appointed Prince Regent, King in all but name,” Jobson, author of “The Royal Family Operations Manual,” told Insider.”My understanding is that while the Queen feels fit and well both physically and mentally she will continue to reign, supported by her son, Charles, and William, his heir, and the rest of the royal family.”But if for any reason, such as being limited to perform her public duties due, for example, to the pandemic or infirmity, she may well re-consider her position as she won’t be able to fulfill her duties,” Jobson added.
“After all she has always said she has to ‘be seen to be believed.'”Jobson added that Her Majesty is “mindful of her age” and that she would want to ensure that “the transition of the Crown is seamless.””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,” Jobson added.However, the process is more complicated than you might thinkIn order for the Regency Act to be triggered, however, the monarch must be regarded as incapable in making decisions independently, according to royal commentator Joe Little.
“The Queen cannot ‘trigger’ the Regency Act herself; in the event of her incapacity, a group of at least three nominated senior officials — legal, parliamentary, and the Duke of Edinburgh — would have to make that declaration,” Little, managing editor at Majesty magazine, told Insider.
Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on his 99th birthday.
“What will most likely happen is that the Prince of Wales assumes more of his mother’s official duties but, unless she becomes incapacitated, his present status will not change,” he said. Despite this, Jobson believes “there is enough scope in the Regency Act” for the Queen to retire in the traditional sense.Another option would be for the Queen to officially abdicate, making Charles King. This option has been popular among modern monarchs, including King Juan Carlos of Spain, who stepped down in favor of his son, Felipe, in 2014, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who handed the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013, as per the BBC.While it’s a possibility, Little doesn’t believe this is an option Queen Elizabeth would favor.
After all, the Queen said herself that she planned to reign for her whole life, in a speech she made on her 21st birthday. “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,” the Queen said, according to Town and Country.”The Queen, of course, vowed to serve her country for the rest of her life but it has long been speculated that Prince Charles could reign as a regent sooner than expected,” Jobson said.”After all Charles’ life of public service has been part of his preparation for kingship,” he added.
“I am certain the Queen will want succession to occur naturally and seamlessly.”Read more:How the royal family would change if the Queen withdrew from public lifeThe Queen is reportedly planning to hand over power to Prince Charles when she turns 95
The Queen just made history with her first ever public engagement over video call