So is it time for the Queen to step down?

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When will Prince Charles become king?

Prince Charles has been first-in-line to the throne for 65 years, longer than any other heir in UK history. Should he replace the Queen, he would be the oldest monarch to accede to the throne.

Over the past few years, however, Charles has taken on more of his 90-year-old mother’s duties as a kind of “unofficial co-regency” and last night, represented her at an evening reception to mark Commonwealth Day.

Prince-Charles-Photo-C-GETTY-IMAGES
Prince-Charles-Photo-C-GETTY-IMAGES

So is it time for the Queen to step down?
Constitutionally, there is nothing to prevent Queen Elizabeth, who became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch last September, from stepping down. Her uncle, Edward VIII, famously abdicated in 1936 in order to marry US divorcee Wallis Simpson, making his brother, the Queen’s father, King George VI.

If she were to relinquish her position, the Queen would follow Juan Carlos of Spain, who abdicated in June 2014, as well as the last three queens of the Netherlands, who all stepped aside in their 70s.

Those close to the monarch, however, say she would never consider giving up the throne. Sarah Bradford, the author of Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times, says: “The Queen simply feels she must do her duty and she’s never even contemplated abdication.”

What does the public think?
Surveys have consistently suggested the public is not keen on the idea of Charles as king or his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, as queen.

As our graphic shows, support for the Queen abdicating peaked in 1990, when almost half of the country were keen to see her pass on the reins of power. However, enthusiasm for “King Charles” plummeted soon afterwards, probably due to the public breakdown of his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1992 amid allegations of infidelity.

It wasn’t until the end of the 1990s that the Prince’s reputation began to pull out of its nosedive. The modest climb can be traced to the 1997 appointment of PR adviser Mark Bolland, who is widely credited with restoring Charles’s image and preparing the public for his second marriage.

Despite that, public acceptance of the Queen’s abdication in favour of her eldest son has never again approached its 1990 peak. Recent surveys shows 70 per cent of the UK would prefer her to remain.

LONDON - JUNE 22: New born Prince William with Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles leave St. Mary's hospital on June 22, 1982 in Paddington, London, England,. He was born in the Lindo Wing of the hospital on June 21. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)LONDON - JUNE 22: New born Prince William with Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles leave St. Mary's hospital on June 22, 1982 in Paddington, London, England,. He was born in the Lindo Wing of the hospital on June 21. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
LONDON – JUNE 22: New born Prince William with Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles leave St. Mary’s hospital on June 22, 1982 in Paddington, London, England,. He was born in the Lindo Wing of the hospital on June 21. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Would Prince Charles be head of the Commonwealth?
The Prince of Wales is “all but certain to take over from the Queen as the next head of the Commonwealth”, says The Times.

Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father George VI, who first headed the organisation when it was founded in 1931. However, she is now only head of state in 16 of the 52 Commonwealth countries and there is no rule to say the Commonwealth must be headed by the UK sovereign. When the Queen dies, it will be up to member countries to decide who takes over – and some states have voiced support for an elected or revolving leadership.

Nevertheless, The Times today reports “senior sources have confirmed for the first time that [Prince Charles] will almost definitely succeed his mother in the post”. Commonwealth Day celebrations yesterday contained a “subtle sign of how the prince is being groomed for the job”, says the newspaper, with the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall standing in for the Queen at last night’s reception, hosted by Baroness Scotland of Asthal, secretary-general of the Commonwealth.

Prince George and Prince Charles Photo (C) GETTY
Prince George and Prince Charles Photo (C) GETTY

Would ‘King Charles’ be bad for the monarchy?
The problem with Charles as monarch, says the Daily Mail’s Allison Pearson, is that “we know far too much about his foibles and past errors to revere him as we revere his mother” – and who on earth can follow such an act, she asks.

In addition, the Prince’s well-documented interventions in politics, including the “black spider memos” sent to government ministers, cast doubts about his ability to remain neutral.

Constitutional monarchy “can’t possibly work if the monarch holds and expresses strong views of his own”, royalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in The Spectator.

The Prince of Wales “possesses a strong sense of duty”, he says, asking: “Might not it be best expressed by renouncing the throne in advance?”

The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee advocates a more extreme solution – abolishing the monarchy altogether. “Let [Queen Elizabeth II] reign as long as she lives,” she writes. “But let her be Elizabeth the Last.”

Infographic by statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk

Source: TheWeek Co Uk

Tags: Prince Charles, Prince William, William and Charles, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II