Joanna Lumley tells story of Queen Elizabeth and an ex-soldier
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Queen Elizabeth II, 95, recently took a break from her royal duties after an overnight stay at a London hospital forced the monarch to miss the United Nations’ COP26 climate change summit and a sprained back forced her to delay her return until after Britain’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony. With much interest about whether Her Majesty will continue her record-breaking 69-year reign, Australia’s oldest university asked if the Queen could decide to step down rather than push ahead with her plans to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
Sydney University’s Dr McCreery, who completed her Master’s and Doctorate degrees at the University of Oxford, suggests Elizabeth is unlikely to abdicate from her duties.
However, the royal historian has claimed the monarch could instead decide to scale back her workload.
She said: “It is unusual for British monarchs to ‘retire’ – it is more common in other European monarchies.
“In the Netherlands Queen Wilhelmina retired after World War II and passed the throne on to her daughter who became Queen Juliana.
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“More common in Britain is a gentle reduction in royal duties as a monarch ages – Queen Victoria is a good example of this – though she participated in important royal celebrations near the end of her life (for example, the 1897 Diamond Jubilee).”
While it is uncommon for British monarchs to abdicate, with James II and Edward VIII as the only two to opt to retire from the throne since the union of crowns in 1603, McCreery argued the latter remains significant for the Firm today as the stress of being King is said to have worsened Elizabeth’s father George VI’s ill-health.
“The Queen – along with other members of the Royal Family – continue to see Edward VIII’s abdication as a dereliction of duty, and thus abdication is not a choice that the Queen would wish to make if at all possible,” she said.
But abdication among European leaders was not only an event that immediately followed the end of the Second World War.
King Albert II of Belgium, 87, and Queen Beatrix of Holland, 83, both abdicated from their respective thrones in 2013.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain, 83, decided to join them the following year when he handed over his throne to Felipe VI, 53.
The Sydney-born professor, who will next year host an online conference examining Australian responses to the reign of Elizabeth II, also considered whether the Queen could hand over power to Charles as her ‘Regent’.
She said: “Queen Elizabeth II could hand over to Prince Charles on a temporary basis, making him the acting monarch or ‘Regent’ – but historically British monarchs have delayed giving full responsibilities to their heir until the last possible moment.”
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The monarch can pass on powers in two circumstances.
The first is when the King or Queen is deemed incapable of ruling, just as George III was when power was passed on to his son George IV.
The second, and as stipulated in the Regency Act of 1937, involved concerns a monarch will ascend to the throne before their 18th birthday.
The last time a royal made the rise to King or Queen before they entered adulthood was when the ‘Boy King’ Edward VI succeeded Henry VIII to the throne.
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