Britain begins to think the unthinkable: life after the queen

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Britain begins to think the unthinkable: life after the queen

Elizabeth II’s intention is to remain in public view as long as she can. But the shadow cast by her years lengthens

Martin Ivens

The world’s leaders are gathered in Glasgow for COP26, but Queen Elizabeth II — most likely the dignitary they were keenest to glimpse — will not be there to greet them. She will address delegates in a recorded video instead. The conference will lack the magic dust that the physical presence of Europe’s last anointed and longest reigning monarch scatters over such occasions.  

This is but the latest of several intimations of royal mortality. The queen, 95 years old this year, long ago handed over arduous foreign tours to her son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles. Just as Buckingham Palace begins to transfer more duties around the royal “firm”, the UK must begin to think the unthinkable: of life without her.

Britain’s constitutional head of state cancelled a planned two-day visit to Northern Ireland the week brfore last after an overnight stay in a London hospital, news of which palace officials ill-advisedly withheld from the world’s media. The intention was to play down fears for her health and spare her privacy from intrusion. Instead, it set alarm bells ringing and accusations of a cover-up. To avoid a recurrence, aides will have to be more open with the press and public about the monarch’s health in old age. ..

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