Rumour has it that the Queen will step back, pare down on her duties and allow the Prince of Wales to act as Regent.
If true, I'm disappointed. I'm not a monarchist, but I'm comforted knowing that the Queen is still around. Like a grandparent I never visit, on a personal level, I care about her. She's the only queen I've ever known. She's on my stamps, my money, and on the various souvenirs I collect.
The Queen, of course, as earned the right to kick back and relax a bit. She'll be 80 in April. When her peers are retiring and spending winters in Florida, playing canasta, and making crafts with sea shells, she is doing investitures, reading important papers, travelling, and holding state dinners for 200+. Admirably she's still going strong.
Sure the Prince of Wales will do a great job, he's been apprenticing since he was 3 1/2 years old. Unlike Queen Victoria, who did not allow her heir, Edward VII, to access any papers, the Prince of Wales will be more prepared for his future role by QE2. It's reassuring, but it's not the same. What about the glamour and pagentry of monarchy? No one wears a tiara and priceless jewels like the Queen.
But should he really be handed the reins at the moment? With all of the furor surrounding his marriage to Camilla, shouldn't she let the dust settle? Won't this bring up all sorts of issues? His suitability as king? His name as sovereign? Camilla's title? His religious beliefs? There are all sorts of things for royal experts and the annoying Penny Junor to speculate on.
In her Coronation vows, I don't recall hearing anything about stepping back. Maybe it's in the interpretation. If we question her dedication, there are royal loopholes and disclaimers to prove us wrong. Legal experts will tell us we should have read the fine print.
It's nothing new for an heir to take on more duties when the monarch is unavailable or incapacitated. The Queen, when she was Princess Elizabeth did so, but it just seemed different then. With a young and beautiful queen there was something to look forward to. Can we say the same thing about the Prince of Wales?
I'm sure the Prince of Wales will make a great king; when the time comes. Until then I'm just not ready to see her go.
Let's hope it's just a rumour.
© Marilyn Braun 2006
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