[avatar user=”krupakshimehta” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]By Krupakshi Mehta[/avatar]
On April 21, Queen Elizabeth II turned 95, four days after her husband, Prince Philip, and the alliance that ruled Britain’s royal family for nearly 70 years was laid to rest. Now that the queen is alone and facing the future, her son and heir, Prince Charles, is reorganizing the family to carry on after her.
The death of Prince Philip has heightened the urgency of a shift that was already occurring in the House of Windsor. With the queen’s reign coming to an end, Charles has moved to streamline the royal family and reallocate its responsibilities, a downsizing forced by the loss of stalwart figures like Philip, as well as the fractious departure of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, and Prince Andrew’s messy internal exile.
According to people familiar with the palace, Buckingham Palace is conducting an after-action report on Philip’s funeral ceremony, with lessons learned being applied to Operation London Bridge, the long-in-the-making, minute-by-minute blueprint for what will happen in the days and weeks after the queen dies.
Elizabeth appears to be in good health, with the exception of knee stiffness that makes it difficult for her to walk stairs. Her mother lived to be 101 years old, according to royal watchers. Buckingham Palace is working on her platinum jubilee, a four-day event in June 2022 to commemorate her accession to the throne 70 years ago.
Despite this, the heartbreaking image of an aged, isolated queen, grieving alone in a choir stall in St. George’s chapel during the funeral because to social distancing rules, struck a chord with many. It also sparked concerns about how active she will remain once the pandemic has passed.
Details concerning the royal family’s internal deliberations are elusive and clouded in supposition, as they are with any royal family. People with ties to the palace are dismissing reports that Charles and William will attend a summit conference to work out the handover.
Hunt pointed out that the royal family rarely telegraphs such events, leaving it to outsiders to decipher the meaning. However, a few points stand out.
While the queen has returned to work following Philip’s death, she will never be able to resume the frantic schedule of meetings, receptions, and garden parties that she had for decades. According to these sources, Elizabeth may only visit Buckingham Palace for meetings two days a week, preferring to reside at Windsor Castle, where she and Philip were sequestered during the pandemic.
As Prince of Wales, Charles had already assumed some of his mother’s responsibilities, such as abroad tours and knighthood investiture ceremonies. He attends the state opening of Parliament with her; the next one is in May.
The most difficult task for Charles is balancing the family’s responsibilities with its shrinking ranks. He has long advocated for a smaller monarchy centred on him and his wife, Camilla, Prince William and his wife, Kate, and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. His younger sister, Princess Anne, is also a full-time royal.
However, Harry and Meghan’s choice to leave their duties and relocate to California shattered those plans. When Harry attended his grandfather’s funeral, there was no hint of a change of heart from him, nor was there any hope for a reconciliation with William. The brothers exchanged a few words as they exited the service, but Harry had to fly back before the queen’s birthday on Wednesday.
Andrew’s chances of ever returning to the fold are likewise slim. In fact, when his acquaintance Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial in New York in July on allegations of trafficking teenage girls on behalf of her employer, Epstein, the palace is bracing itself for more unpleasant revelations. One of Epstein’s victims has accused Andrew of sexual misbehaviour, which he denied.
While Charles has amassed a sizable charitable portfolio, William has chosen to focus his efforts on a few key causes. He came out last week as president of the Football Association against an unpopular idea to create an elite soccer Super League, which would have included several of Britain’s biggest clubs.
“There is a difference between the way Charles envisages things and William envisages things,” said Valentine Low, the royal correspondent of The Times of London. But he added, “Charles acknowledges and even welcomes that William should have a role in these conversations.”