Prince Charles would find it ‘very difficult’ to talk to his mom about abdication

State Opening of Parliament

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.’”

[From The Daily Beast]

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.”

The Prince Of Wales Presents The Queen Elizbeth Prize For Engineering

Royal British Legion - Together At Christmas

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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53 Responses to “Prince Charles would find it ‘very difficult’ to talk to his mom about abdication”

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  1. Eurydice says:

    They can’t even get her to give up the keys to the car.

  2. lanne says:

    The Queen deathwatch is going to be macabre. It’s clear no one thought of how the Queen might spend years in decline. I had an aunt who hung on in a nursing home from age 94-97, mind gone from dementia. The queen could die tomorrow, or she could hold on for years and years, barely alive and aware. It’s clear that someone needs to come up with a plan for her decline, some “if this, then that” scenarios to ease a transition that is inevitable. The idea that she would be hale and hearty for 95 years, then die in her sleep isn’t really likely, even if it is what’s most desired. What’s more likely is a long, slow decline where she’ll be kept alive by any means necessary.

    It would be smart to talk openly about their plans. Let it be known she has a DNR for example, and lead discussions about end of life care that none of us want to have, but that we all must have. This would be a great way to cement her reign even further, but we know that will never happen.

  3. Merricat says:

    I can see why he’d feel conflicted. Charles is standing on the precipice of his destiny, what he’s waited for his entire life. He must be giddy, but also have some grief and guilt.
    I’m not pro-Charles or pro-monarchy, for certain. But I am interested in watching him navigate this part of his life. He’s one of the last of Britain’s monarchs.

    • Selene says:

      I love this take on it.

    • Becks1 says:

      It’s a weird position to be in, right? He’s waiting for the next stage of his life to begin at a time when most people his age are retiring, and he can’t start that next stage until his mother dies. It’s why I always think the celebration of the Queen’s long reign is a little weird – yes, she’s reigned for almost 70 years at this point, but that’s because her father died relatively young.

      Anyone with any interest in history at all should be interested in what is going to happen over the next few years here.

      • Eurydice says:

        Absolutely this. Whatever one thinks of Elizabeth, she’s an historical figure and her passing won’t just be the end of her era, but possibly the end of monarchies in general. There will be introspection about the past and speculation about the future. Like an anaconda swallowing a cow, it will be interesting to watch the digestion process.

    • Maria says:

      Honestly I applaud you for giving him that much credit. I can’t help but picture him at this point like Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous next to her mother saying “Oh for God’s sake JUST DIE!!!”

    • SuSuSusio says:

      I agree Merricat. I am not a Monarchist, but as per this discussion:

      In truth, I don’t think she has to abdicate in order to shift more power to Charles.

      The Cop26 would’ve been a perfect opportunity as the Environment has always been one of Charles’ interests. All they needed was a statement from HM opening the door for him to take the lead.

      The question then becomes, why would she never do that? There are many intelligent guesses along the spectrum from refusing to cede any power to not believing he’s up to the challenge.

      My gut tells me she’s not long for this world and when she passes I think England will go into a state of shock not seen since Henry VIII split from Rome and created the C of E.

      FWIW – again, I’m no monarchist — I’d much rather see Charles on the throne than his eldest son. And I think starting the transition now, rather than debating abdication, is their wisest move.

      Surprisingly, the palace of late isn’t known for their wise moves.

    • molly says:

      Great take. This is Charles’s destiny, but it’s also his only purpose in life. He was born and raised to do nothing else. The You’re Wrong About podcast had some interesting takes about the cruelty of being born the heir. You can have all the castles and jewels in the world, but it’s still a very sad and lonely existence.

  4. Jay says:

    Or he’s attempted to convince her to abdicate multiple times and been sent away with a flea in his ear and the Queen vowing to live forever…

    Is it credible that Charles and those around QEII would really just be considering this question of abdication NOW? Or is putting stories like this how they are trying to nudge her off the throne?

    We’ve mentioned it a couple times this past week, but it really does feel like the courtiers have spent a lot of time planning for how to announce her death and making funeral arrangements, but like many of us dealing with elderly family members, they haven’t got much of a plan for if things get more complicated, i.e. her decision-making or mental functions are in question, but she refuses to resign.

    Everyone seems to be stuck in an earlier age where the only consideration was about what mourning attire the nobles should wear and making the announcement in time for the morning dailies to print a tasteful black border. This could get messy real fast.

    • LillyfromLillooet says:


      Like all this. I’d also add that there is no precedent (please anyone correct me if I’m wrong) in the Royal family of abdicating because of old age, or abdicating because of incapacity. There may be a regency, but no actual stepping down. That does not seem to have any precedent in British royal history, though anyone, I’m no expert and would be interested to hear more info.

      • LadyMTL says:

        I’m no historian, but if memory serves the only British monarch to abdicate was Edward VIII, and that wasn’t because of old age or infirmity. There were others who were forced off the throne (Charles I comes to mind) but yeah, it’s not like there’s a ton of precedent for this kind of thing.

      • Andrew’s Nemesis says:

        See George III and ‘Prinny’, the Prince Regent. The Regency era was fascinating – well worth a study.

      • Gubbinal says:

        George III flirted with abdication: “A long Experience … has gradually prepared My mind to expect the time when I should be no longer of Utility to this Empire; that hour is now come; I am therefore resolved to resign My Crown and all the Dominions appertaining to it to the Prince of Wales my Eldest Son and Lawful Successor…” That was in 1783. He finally died in 1820. It was an unconsummated abdication. I think the monarch really believes in the special divinity of the blood.

      • FluglyBear says:

        There are many times in history when the reigning king was Ill, and a regency was needed. Edward IV had mental issues and his cousin the Duke of York had two terms as regent. George 3rd had regency for a 11 years known as ‘The Regency ‘. era in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a period towards the end of the Georgian era, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule due to his illness and his son ruled as his proxy, as prince regent. Upon George III’s death in 1820, the prince regent became King George IV. So it’s nothing especially new.
        She doesn’t have to abdicate Charles could be regent. She is quite selfish in expecting everyone to wait until she’s ready to die, because they are pretty close behind her.

      • LillyfromLillooet says:

        @LadyMTL, @Andrew’s Nemesis @Gubbinal @FluglyBear

        Thanks, I really enjoyed reading and learning all of this. I know from art, history of women’s clothing, furniture design about the English Regency Period but didn’t know (or I learned and then forgot) all about why it was called that and what monarchical machinations were afoot.

        Nice quote from George III!

        Given my brief and soul-puckering viewing of The Crown, aka We’ve Learned Nothing, I would not include generosity as a valued quality royals extend to each other.

    • Teagirl says:

      @Flugly Bear, please forgive the correction but this is one of my favourite periods in history so I know that Edward IV did not have mental issues. It was Henry VI. He was incapacitated a couple of times and the duke of York was named protector. Edward IV was the son of the Duke of York and had a pretty good claim to the throne himself. To cut a long story short he took deposed Henry and took over, ruled for a while, people switched sides, he was exiled and Henry VI was reinstated, was just as mentally troubled as before, and Edward IV invaded again and became king for the second time. He eventually died and was succeeded briefly by his son Edward V who was one of the princes in the tower who was followed by Richard III who died at Bosworth, and the Tudor dynasty took over. The whole thing is known as the Wars of the Roses.

      One of the most interesting things about this period that Edward IV caused tremendous trouble by marrying Elizabeth Woodville, pretty much a commoner, and she got all her family on the royal gravy train for positions and titles. I’ve often heard the Middletons referred to as the modern day Woodvilles.

      I was born and brought up in the UK, and history was my favourite subject at school. Still love it today. It’s got everything: love, adultery, murder, incest, madness, plotting, you name it, they did it.

      • FluglyBear says:

        Thanks…100 percent. ! Mixing up my Edwards and Henry’s.

      • SnoodleDumpling says:

        @FluglyBear Oh, I’m sure we’ve all done that a time or two.

        For me the real trouble is the Jameses and Charleses. I have to run through the lot of them in order every time to be sure which is which.

  5. JT says:

    Reason number fifty-leven thousand why the firm is incompetent: getting rid of the one guy who could have helped the monarchy transition as the queen declines. How could they be so stupid? They have no plans in place, no real ideas for the future other than “slimming down”, and absolutely no one around who can ask the hard questions. Why are they even called a firm?

  6. Sofia says:

    Of course it’s a difficult conversation. Asking your mother to stop doing the job she was raised to do since 10 and has done so for almost 70 years is not easy. Especially coming from the guy who’s going to replace her.

    It’s going to be very interesting to see how the palace handles it all.

    • STRIPE says:

      I understand the conflict of interest here as well. He’s the one who would most benefit from her abdication, so that would always hang over whatever conversations he has with her about this.

  7. Betsy says:

    It would probably be better coming from Anne. Wasn’t it said that Elizabeth kind of resented Charles because she knew he’d be her replacement someday, that he was her duty child (as utterly stupid as that sounds given that that is how every single inherited monarchy has worked for forever)? She is unlikely to abdicate, even given the health problems, and coming from Charles I think she’d see it as him trying to take over the throne while she’s still living.

    We mortals have trouble getting our parents to give up their keys or move into an apartment when the family house is way, way too much for them to handle. How do you talk someone into giving up a job they think they were ordained for and that they pledged to do until they died?

    • Truthiness says:

      Elizabeth may resent Charles because he’s been trying to get her to step down since the 70’s lol. If I were her I wouldn’t abdicate for a son who sold access for cash and a host of other problems too numerous to list.

  8. Selene says:

    And I agree with her. If the past kings and queens died on the job, why shouldn’t she? What’s so wrong about wanting to uphold that? She finds honor in it, and it’s a pointless conversation to have, she won’t budge.

    • lanne says:

      Past kings and queens died early on the job. They didn’t live until 95. Most were dead even before the age Charles is now. Nowadays, she can linger in a job that she’s unable to physically do for a decade. That’s not good for the monarchy.

    • JT says:

      She wouldn’t necessarily need to abdicate, because I doubt Charles would consider that either when he’s king, but they definitely needed to better plan for the queen’s natural decline. They should’ve moved to establish Charles as a co-monarch or something. I’m not really sure what it would be called or what it would have entailed but Charles on equal footing with his mother should have been a thing before now. There should have been a slow transition to hand over the reigns as the queen has gotten older. She could still do the important ceremonial events required for her role but Charles should have been a co-face of the monarchy before now. I would imagine things would have been a lot smoother. It’s what a real firm would do with an aging CEO.

      • Selene says:

        The monarchy is an ancient system that has to do with a “chosen individual” with the “divine right to rule”. Functionality has little to do with it, that’s a capitalist/American mentality where people are valued based on production and what they can offer, not on who they are. The job is being her, she is the job.

  9. Sunday says:

    I can buy that Charles wouldn’t talk to the queen about abdication (because he’s a coward), but scheming and machinating behind the scenes to quietly gain power? Absolutely, that’s the entire reason he got rid of Geidt and installed an inside man.

    Also, “the time maybe has come for Charles to be given more of a role” – the man is SEVENTY FREAKING TWO. So I guess the “ready to step up” embiggening articles aren’t reserved for the keenbridges. What a way to live.

  10. Noki says:

    Didnt the Queen Mother move to BP before her death? I think it would be a good thing for the Queen and the transition if Charles and Camilla begin to reside there.

    • Selene says:

      The Queen Mother never ruled. She was wife to the King, and her position ceased after his death in 1952.

    • Becks1 says:

      Ditto Selene – the QM was never the monarch so its a different situation, and Charles has also said that he does not plan to live at BP.

  11. Marymary says:

    She doesn’t need to officially abdicate, just step back from Royal duties just like Philip did. Nobody could begrudge that.

  12. remarks says:

    In her mind an abdication seems forever associated with her uncle. The Crown showed her to be more forgiving towards him, but everyone else in the family seemed to view him as a flighty betrayer who helped bring on Elizabeth’s father’s early death. The Crown is fictional, but I would think there’d have to be some truth to that.

    Despite any personal feelings about her uncle, I don’t think she wants any public link to him in history which the word abdication could potentially reference. I don’t really blame her — he seemed like a much more annoying guy than the rest of them. He sure was on The Crown (my goodness, make up your mind as to what you want!)

    Whatever Charles’s personal conflicts with his mother, I don’t think he wants her to die. Nobody wants their parents to pass. He seemed very torn up about Philip’s death, even though they had personal conflicts, and he was luckier than most children to have his dad for that long.

  13. Eating Popcorn says:

    Please we can’t our parents to agree to have help come in to clean the house (even though they had help while they were working!) they don’t need it now that they are 89.

    • Elvie says:

      My grandmother continued to run her business until the day she died this summer. We all spent the last 15 years trying to convince her to sell/retire to no avail.
      My husband’s grandparents are 90 and refuse any help for their home even though they desperately need it.

      No one is convincing QEII to do anything.

  14. Anne says:

    No one in the UK wants the Queen to abdicate just now. The Jubilee is coming up next year (the first Platinum Jubilee ever) and they are expecting huge revenues from that. They need her to soldier on at least until February 6th, and preferably until early June when a four-day celebration is planned.

  15. Erica says:

    “Breezing into the summit, scattering stardust?” Um, WHAT! She seems like a charisma vacuum to me but maybe I’m wrong.

  16. Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

    All I know is that Harry better NOT bring his kids to the funeral ceremonies. I doubt Meghan would refuse to go but she SHOULD.

    • fluffybunny says:

      H&M maintain they are on good terms with the Queen so I see no reason why Meghan would skip the funeral. If she skips they’ll eat her alive for not honoring the Queen and Harry’s grandmother. If she goes she overshadows everything. She should go and support Harry.

    • SnoodleDumpling says:

      I agree on the kids, they’re way too young for a funeral to mean much to them yet (I doubt they’re even old enough to properly comprehend the concept of death or the idea that it is permanent), and the English tabloids remain, as ever, a pack of rabid dogs who will never let go of something once they’ve a hold of it.

  17. Amy Bee says:

    It tells you the kind of relationship the Queen and Charles, if he can’t talk frankly to her about stepping down. Anyway we’ve seen the future at COP26 and it’s not great. We saw a stumbling heir to throne who has difficulty taking directions from people he deems beneath him and someone, despite his many speeches over the years, is a lightweight and can’t be considered a credible authority on climate change and the environment.

  18. Becks1 says:

    There have been so many opportunities to talk about her abdicating or at least a regency being put in place that I refuse to believe it has never been brought up to her – when other european monarchs have stepped down, when Phillip retired, when Phillip died, etc. Maybe she has shot own the discussion every time, maybe it never goes anywhere and maybe by this point they don’t want to upset her by bringing it up, but I have to believe its been mentioned to her, even if it was just by Phillip himself.

    Anyway i highly recommend the Norman Baker book, ArtHistorian here recommended it and it was really excellent.

  19. What says:

    It runs in the family. Just like William is finding it hard to “abdicate”and share his so-called new climate issue with his family members. Kate is home, him and Charles are trying to outdo one another in speeches in glasgow. So much for being proud. Yet when Harry started Invictus he made sure to include William and Charles but they was soon delegated to the family jealousy cause they didn’t have a platform like that for themselves. Hence Charles finally getting the recognition for all his work for climate change. But William is just getting on the bandwagon

  20. Avalon says:

    The Queen will not abdicate. In her inevitable decline, Charles and Camilla will do more. She will remain Queen until she dies. To do otherwise is the admission that it’s just a job and not divine right. If you can quit a job you can be fired from a job. That is the anger at M&H , along with the racism, them leaving the island of dysfunctional royalty reminded everyone in the family that they can be fired.

    • FluglyBear says:

      That’s very insightful. Thank you for helping me understand this from the Queens perspective. In USA the aspects of divine right remain hidden and mysterious, and unappreciated.

    • Tessa says:

      It should be that the younger ones pitch in. C and C are senior citizens and I think Will and Kate will have to step up. Or be forced to one way or the other imo.

      • Avalon says:

        I agree,Tessa. Sadly, the only thing Willnot has is the goodwill the people feel for Diana. He is dim,lazy and the worst of both his parents in a meatsuit built only for vacationing and hiding in the country with his posh friends.