Just over a year ago, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands handed her eldest son Willem Alexander the reins of the country, everybody in Britain wondered whether Queen Elizabeth II would be next. Now, as Spain’s Juan Carlos, 76, steps down to "renew" the monarchy, questions are rising again about the British queen’s succession.
“I can’t see our Queen abdicating,” explains Stephen Bates, a British monarchy expert. “It’s not in her DNA. Britain got a taste of abdication once in 1936, when Edward VIII wanted to marry Wallis Simpson. It took them a long time to recover from that.”
Besides, the Windsors are not the Bourbons. Unlike Juan Carlos, Queen Elizabeth is still very popular.
Last one standing
During her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, in front of the two houses of Parliament, Elizabeth renewed her commitment to her work with her subjects. “The Queen sees it as her duty to go on for as long as she can. I think she would abdicate only if she was physically or mentally incapable of carrying on with her work. But if she takes after her mother, who lived until 101, she could become the first monarch to live to be a hundred,” Bates continues.
In that sense, she is following in the footsteps of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Come September 2015, she could pip her ancestor at the post, beating her 63 years and seven months on the throne.
In November 2013 already, when Prince Charles celebrated his 65th birthday — an age at which others usually retire — oracles and other specialists of European monarchies suggested that Elizabeth would never abdicate. Instead, a “job-share” solution or a soft transition seemed to be her favored choice. Lately, the Queen has offloaded part of her responsibilities on Charles, whose very personal style in diplomatic matters makes him stand out.
Safe for a spectacular turn of events, it looks like Queen Elizabeth II will be the last one standing on the chessboard of Europe’s monarchs. Once again, the British are doing things their own way.