It has always been difficult to discuss the Queen’s health situation and her funeral plans without sounding macabre. Plans for what happens after the Queen’s passing, aka Operation London Bridge, are intensely detailed and of course they involve more than her funeral. They involve King Charles and what he’ll be doing in the hours, days and weeks following his mother’s passing. Something has been abundantly clear in recent weeks though: very few people within the palace have prepared for what happens when the Queen is merely in failing health, when her physical capabilities are growing more limited by the day. The palace got caught trying to cover up an overnight hospitalization, which doesn’t bode well for future disclosures about the health and well-being of the current British head of state. Now there’s another round of conversations about “should the Queen abdicate” and no one is doing or saying anything to her directly, because although her funeral is planned down to the last detail, no one thought to make a contingency plan for what happens when the Queen is merely too infirm to carry on working. From the Daily Beast’s Royalist column:
Charles in the junior role: It’s worth considering what Cop26 might have looked like in an alternate universe, where the queen had either abdicated or officially retired and allowed Charles to establish a formal regency or to call himself king….But we shall never know because, by maintaining that the queen was going to be able to merrily make an 800-mile round trip and breeze into a massive gathering of world leaders scattering stardust, the palace has relegated Charles, yet again, into a junior, supporting role. Doing too much, being too enthusiastic, would have risked him being seen as attempting to usurp his mother’s position.
The one person who could have convinced her to abdicate: Her private secretary, Edward Young, wouldn’t dream of proposing such a thing. His predecessor, Christopher Geidt, who had a far closer relationship with the queen, and was originally picked by her with the unspoken intention he would see out her reign, might just have been able to raise the issue. But he is out of the picture these days, spending more time on his sheep farm in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands after losing a power struggle with Prince Charles in 2017.
Charles won’t have the conversation: The complications and conflicts of interest for Charles in talking to his mother about stepping down in his favor are not hard to imagine. “I think it would be very difficult for Charles to talk to her about this,” Charles’ biographer Penny Junor told The Daily Beast. “She is really, really against abdication. She grew up believing it to be the absolute bogey man. There is a mental resistance to it. He does do a lot already, but I do think the time maybe has come for Charles to be given more of a role. But that’s a very difficult conversation to have, and it’s doubtful if there is anyone who could have that conversation with her without her replying, ‘Nonsense.’”
Is it really a “conflict of interest” for Charles, the heir, to ask his 95-year-old mother in poor health if she would consider abdicating? I don’t speak British-pretzel-logic, so I don’t get that. I do think it’s (slightly) funny that Charles basically ousted the one person who could have made much of his life easier over the past five years: Sir Christopher Geidt. I remember when Charles made his play to centralize power in Clarence House and Geidt was against it and now look where we are. It was also believed that Geidt would have been much better at “handling” the Sussex situation, which is something else hanging over the monarchy.
Meanwhile, the Daily Beast also had this quote from Norman Baker, author of …and What Do You Do? What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know: “The fact of the queen missing the COP26 summit this weekend is very significant. There are suspicions she is really quite unwell and that we are not being told the whole truth, so the biggest question of all is whether there actually will be a jubilee next year.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.