Queen has ‘no option’ but to step down after State Opening absence

Queen ‘maintaining a busy diary’ says commentator

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The Queen missed the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in nearly 60 years on Tuesday. Her heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William, acted in their roles as Counsellors of State by standing in on behalf of the monarch. The move was unprecedented in modern history and has pointed to a significant transition within the monarchy.

It has also raised questions about the Queen’s future role within the Royal Family. 

David Larcombe, former royal editor at The Sun, claimed that the Queen has “no option” but to step down from her royal duties because of her State Opening absence. 

He told The Daily Beast: “Tuesday changed everything. The queen really has no option if she is continually unable to perform her role as head of state. 

“It’s one thing not being able to go to an engagement in Glasgow for a climate summit, but if she is now apparently incapable of doing standard, core jobs as head of state, then I think they will have to remove her, by consent of course.”

Mr Larcombe suggested that the Palace was using the word “mobility” in place of “infirmity”, which has the potential of triggering the Regency Act. 

He said: “But in the end, if the CEO can’t ever go into the office, they can’t do any of the actual in-person work.

“In her case that’s the investitures, the Trooping the Colour, the garden parties and opening Parliament. 

“There is no coming back from today and they all know it.”

Mr Larcombe added: “It is all going to make the Jubilee hugely poignant, as I think by then it will have dawned on us all that this will be the last time we will ever see her. The countdown has begun.”

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations culminate in a four-day weekend next month. 

Communities across the country will come together to mark Her Majesty’s 70-year reign. 

Due to her ongoing mobility issues, the Palace has said that the Queen’s attendance at events during the Jubilee will be confirmed on the day. 

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It is expected that Charles, William, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge will undertake central roles during the celebrations. 

The Prince of Wales is taking over more and more of his mother’s responsibilities, arousing speculation around whether the monarch will trigger the Regency Act. 

The Regency Act, officially signed into law in 1937, was put in place to provide a fallback in the event of the reigning monarch being unable to carry out their duties.

It specifies that a regent should be appointed if “the Sovereign is by reason of infirmity of mind or body incapable for the time being of performing the royal functions” and is also applied to monarchs who are minors.

Clive Irving, author of ‘The Last Queen’, has claimed that invoking the Regency Act is the “first step towards abdication”.

He told The Daily Beast: “The sane thing would be to have her [the Queen] abdicate. 

“The use of the Regency Act is the first step towards abdication, which, I suspect, will happen once the Jubilee is over.”

However, it has long been believed that the Queen will never abdicate. 

Her Majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday that her “whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted” to service.

In February, the monarch reaffirmed her commitment in her Accession Day message. 

In a statement marking her 70 years on the throne, she said: “As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service.”

Abdication within the British monarchy has been shrouded in controversy since the abrupt abdication of Edward VIII in 1936. 

Edward famously gave up the throne to marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, triggering a constitutional crisis within the country and its dominions.

It was Edward’s abdication that changed the course of the monarchy, putting the current Queen’s father, George VI, in power and so changing the line of succession. 

At the age of 96 and after a 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth is Britain’s longest reigning monarch. 

Mr Irving stressed that Her Majesty does not “have to die in the saddle”.

He said: “It’s critical to grasp a point that gets easily overlooked because there is so little precedent to guide it: She does not have to die in the saddle, like Victoria, after a rapid decline. 

“There is nothing in the protocols to say that.”

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