Two contributors battle it outby Andrew Brown , Hugo Vickers / May 16, 2017 / Leave a comment
Should the Queen abdicate?
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Prince Philip, who will be 96 this June, has announced that he is retiring from official duties in the autumn. Is it time for the Queen, now 91, also to consider stepping down from her own much greater responsibilities as monarch?
Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather was killed by his doctors, with an eye to the media impact. Her father died of lung cancer at a relatively early age. She has been luckier and healthier. She could well last until she is over 100 years old and I hope very much that she does, but there will come a point when simple old age will enfeeble her and the job will become a tormenting impossibility. She might feel that enduring at all costs was her duty. Some such sentiment drove Pope John Paul II through his Parkinson’s disease, but was no example to follow. Pope Benedict XVI, who observed the process closely, learned from it and when his powers failed became the first Pope to retire for nearly 600 years.
The Queen’s job is less demanding than a Pope’s. Much of her work consists in refraining from doing those things which it would be unimaginable for a good Queen to do (a lesson Prince Charles has failed to learn). But there are also active roles for a monarch and a huge one is approaching. She has lived through great changes, and the end of her reign will be used to mark a still greater, epochal one: an end to the kind of country we have been ever since the reign of the first Elizabeth and an end to all the history that our Queen was taught.
The monarchy will play a central part in helping the country understand and dramatise this transformation. The next coronation will be the most important piece of public theatre since the death of Diana. Much better to hold it at a time of her own choosing, and to set a final example of gracious renunciation rather than clinging on until grim death.
The Queen is pragmatic and also an excellent Head of State. I cannot agree that there is a hint of…