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The Queen’s Era Is Drawing to an End as Prince Charles Assumes New Royal Duties
Often what British royals do is far more consequential than what they say. At tomorrow’s State Opening of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II will read out her government’s agenda for the coming session, this time expected to include immigration reforms, a cap on the cost of social care, a measure to control dangerous dogs and another to ban wild animals in circuses. Some of these legislative plans might appear a little weightier than others, but the really big news will be sitting mutely alongside Her Majesty. For the first time, the Queen will be accompanied to this annual ceremonial fixture not only by her doughty husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, but by their son—and her heir—the Prince of Wales, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. Their presence will signal a shift in public life that is likely to impact far more Britons than any law about muzzling pitbulls. After more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning.
On May 7, on the eve of the State Opening, Buckingham Palace also announced that for the first time since 1973 the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth, will not attend November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Prince Charles will deputize for her, traveling to Sri Lanka in her place. The Queen, at 87, looks frail, but is in good health, according to a palace insider, who does concede that officials “are pacing her commitments.” Charles will “increasingly share constitutional duties.”
The Palace had not planned to draw attention to this shift, which has been taking place under the radar. Palace strategists, including the royals themselves, believe the best way to sustain Britain’s monarchy is through a process of constant, near-imperceptible adaptation. And for years, those strategists have been plotting how to apply those techniques of change management to the biggest change the Palace hopes to weather: the succession. Not for the Windsors the gamble taken by the Dutch royals last week, when Queen Beatrix stood down in favor of her son, the new King Willem-Alexander. Polls in the UK have consistently shown deep and steady support for the monarchy headed by Elizabeth II. The results have proved more ambiguous when Britons are asked how they feel about King Charles. Republican movements in the U.K. and in the 15 Commonwealth realms for which the Queen serves as head of state have resigned themselves to making only limited progress during her lifetime. They are looking to her departure to boost their cause substantially, maybe to even bring the Windsor reign to a close and sever Commonwealth ties to the crown. But if the Palace strategists prevail, she will not go suddenly, but in increments, and Charles will have his feet well under the desk by the time that happens.
The choreography is intricate; its cleverest flourishes are invisible. Unlike Her Majesty’s government, Her Majesty doesn’t like to publicize her policy initiatives. The announcement on CHOGM was only triggered because Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister David Cameron would be attending the meeting, despite calls for a boycott over Sri Lanka’s human rights record. Palace officials some weeks ago quietly posted notice of Charles and Camilla’s role at the State Opening of Parliament on the royal website, in language so carefully chosen that only the most dedicated royal watcher would understand the import.
And a hugely significant moment passed entirely unremarked, earlier this year. After the Queen had been hospitalized for gastroenteritis, she canceled most engagements but returned for one event before she was fully recovered, according to the Palace insider. At Marlborough House in London, on March 11, the Queen signed the new Commonwealth Charter. Before she did so, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma gave a speech in which he not only acknowledged the Queen’s long service as the head of the Commonwealth but lauded Prince Charles’s role and spoke of “a foundation of friendship and continuity” in the association between the Commonwealth and the royal family. The Queen responded: “I am grateful to you, Mr Secretary-General, for your kind and generous sentiments, and for your thoughtful words about the link between the Crown and the Commonwealth and its enduring value.” Later that month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, with Antipodean bluntness, spelled out, in a tribute to the Queen, exactly what the Queen and Commonwealth Secretary-General had meant by their exchange of pleasantries.
“The institution of the head of the Commonwealth, standing as it does above individual governments, has been an asset of the Commonwealth since its foundation, and we need not be reticent about its future,” said Gillard. “For Australia’s part, I am sure the Queen’s successor as monarch will one day serve as head of the Commonwealth with the same distinction as her Majesty has done.”
With Charles apparently assured the warmest of welcomes at CHOGM, the Queen has been relieved of a long-haul responsibility. And with public attention snared by the younger royals, and especially the birth, due in July, of the Queen’s great-grandchild, the slow transfer of duties is set to continue, largely unremarked, mostly unchallenged. As the head of state that wears the crown lies a little easier, her successor can lie a little easier too.
- To keep credibility, they are going to have to jump Charles and go directly to King William.
Charles is spoiled, not the bright, arrogant and indifferent to the British masses, who are increasingly coming on very hard economic times. The combination is toxic and could be the end of the British Royal family.
- R2 You must be a stupid American.
- I must be the only person who does not give a damn about British royalty. It annoys me that they capture so much attention in the US.
Woe is me. Why am I even posting in this thread?
- "immigration reforms, a cap on the cost of social care"
what does this include?
Are we not using "Carolingian" anymore? Pity...
- R-2 you are an ass. Charles is smart, hard working, generous, kind, patient - I could go on. You don't know him or Camilla, your 'opinion' is worthless.
- I know him well...
The bitch tried to steal my job!
- R2, as much as people scream that the Royals should skip to William for a young. fresh image, it'll never happen. He has done a lot for many charities and isn't the stereotypical ponce that people thing all upper class people are.
- I've been scratching my cooter. It feels real good. However it's draining like a bitch.
- Her very lowness with her head in a sling. I'm truly sorry but it sounds like a wonderful thing.
- How did Charles cope when Camilla reached menopause and stopped using tampons?
- I suspect this says more about the failing health of Prince Philip than anything else.
- Slowly moving towards a regency? Is that what it's called?
- Who the fuck cares about these pasty old leeches.
- It isn't the first time Charles has been at the State Opening of Parliament, it's the first time Camilla has been there. Charles and Diana attended before because Diana caught shit for 'coincidentally' if inescapably changing her hairstyle and was accused of attempting to steal the spotlight.
Still, it is meant to send a signal but it's more of the same... the same reason they scaled down the Royal Family appearance on the balcony at the Jubilee to the Queen, the Duke, the Wales and the Cambridges. They're trying to cast a dye so the transition goes smoothly. Abdication is anathema to the Queen and so would be skipping a generation, so they're trying to bolster the inevitability of Charles, who is a bit of a liability with his loopy ideas, political interference and general perception as a spoiled baby.
- Nothing entrances queens, like a Queen.
- Where's Crawfie? Tell her I will be queen some day. Charles, you and Andrew have different fathers. Where is my daddy? Someone punish Diana--she's bothering us. Philip, you go do it. Where's mummy? Margaret's being bad again. I want a new hat--get Mr. Churchill to get me a new hat. I want Crawfie...
- Charles could not be passed over, nor would he accept it, nor would his mother accept it. Shut up already. The issue is if an abdication ever would be considered, not who will replace her. She always has appeared to be adamant against a crown-weakening temporizing by abdicating.
However, a compromise, in the case of Her Majesty's apparently steady march towards her centenary, could be a regency, should she become infirm or simply need to give up the hoopla because of a natural decline. Charles as Prince Regent could take over all the requisite duties, and leave the title of monarch to his mother as long as she lived. This would both prepare the nation and Commonwealth, and allow Charles to demonstrate and even enjoy his life of preparation for playing his historic part.
- Shit. She's 87 and her husband is in his 90's. Of course they're dialing it back, and the kids will have to pick up the slack. This isn't news, it's bullshit.
Last year she and Prince Phillip opened Parliament and Princess Anne accompanied them, with a couple of other random Royals. Her Lady in Waiting or some minor Duke.
Why should she be expected, at her age, to travel all the way to Sri Lanka for a conference. Charles should be the one to go. Who else would they send? Andrew? He's so corrupt and crooked he'd get into trouble ten minutes after his plane landed. And Essex is running his own business. So Charles it is.
- Queen Victoria will retain the record for longest-serving monarch ever for some time, though - she ruled Britain and its empire for nearly 64 years which Queen Elizabeth will surpass if she is still on the throne on Sept 9, 2015.
I suspect once that is broken she will give up the throne to Charles. He will be 66 years old then.
- Wessex isn't running a business. His occupation is representing HM at events and being patrons of many charities. He tried to run some sort of a theatrical business, but it failed.
As someone else posted, Charles has accompanied his mother before. Even pre-DIana he has attended, sometimes even in the scarlet Parliamentary robes of a Peer of The UK. Anne has also attended many times, either dressed as a princess in evening wear, orders and tiara, else in her military uniform as stick-in-waiting to HM. If he were to sit right next to her where Philip usually sits, THAT would be interesting. But he'll go off to the side in a little chair like he always did. Camilla will be attending for the first time, no doubt she will be at his side, as is her right.
- Here's a copy of the Queen's Speech. Even the UK has immigrant problems but this seems a bit farfetched.
- [quote]To keep credibility, they are going to have to jump Charles and go directly to King William.
Charles would kill William before that happened.
- To keep credibility, they are going to have to jump Charles and go directly to King William.
It doesn't work that way. It's not just a PR scheme--the UK governmental system currently envisions the monarchy as a divinely ordained institution still. They can't just "pass over" the next in line to it to a more telegenic and popular candidate.
- It would be a constitutional crisis to just skip someone. Succession is defined in the constitution in The UK. Charles will most certainly be king.
- The only way Charles does not become king is if he dies before his mother which is a possibility if she lives as long as her mother and doesn't abdicate. 15 more years on the throne and Charles would be 89.
- Why anyone would think Charles' heirs are better suited to be king is beyond me. They are the Paris Hiltons of the UK.
- [quote]Charles would kill William before that happened.
Kill me once, shame on you...
- We believe it has been made plain in various ways that there will never be another abdication in this family.
This year’s Dennis Skinner comment on Queen’s Speech day
“Royal mail for sale. Queen’s Head, privatised”
- R28, Are you saying that Prince William would be no better as a ruler than Prince Charles?
- Having women rule a monarchy is SO last year!
- [quote]I suspect once that is broken she will give up the throne to Charles. He will be 66 years old then.
Like Kind Edward VII
- And next year, Philip, I won't ask them. Such fun. I love seeing the glint in her piggy little eyes flare out, and his chin disappear again into that morose little pout of his.
That boy will pay for what he did until the day I die. I swear on my crown.
- The Queen plus future monarchs all do the same thing. No one will be better than the next one. They are all the same. They have their charities, they make dedications and they open parliament. What else is there to do?
- Them's all she wrote. There's a new boss in town. See ya, folks. No more news here.
- What was with them dressing Camilla in a wedding dress thing for the state opening of Parliament?
- Just picturing the way Camilla would say r37 is making me LMFAO.
- Is Camilla a top or a bottom?
- [quote]Who else would they send? Andrew? He's so corrupt and crooked he'd get into trouble ten minutes after his plane landed. And Essex is running his own business. So Charles it is.
Anne, who really ought to have been the firstborn under the new succession rules. She likes to work more than the rest of them. Charles would have had a lot more fun in the Andrew role and gotten in a lot less trouble than Andrew.
- Anne was born in 1950. Charles was born in 1948.
Even under the new rules, Anne would still be off the throne.
- Yes, we know, r42. That's not what r41 was saying.