There is no doubt that, over the past few years, the Queen has been handing more responsibility to her 71-year-old son Prince Charles during their private weekly briefings.
The 93-year-old monarch no longer undertakes long-haul travel, for example, with the heir apparent representing her on official visits overseas.
According to royal experts, the Queen is “very aware” that a transition is necessary with some suggesting she may grant her eldest son the full power to reign, a rumour that the Palace denies.
Queen ‘upset’ by Andrew sex scandal
But Britain’s longest-serving monarch may not achieve the clean handover she longs for due to the disastrous past few months marred by her son Prince Andrew’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, not to mention the rift between her grandsons, Princes William and Harry.
In the twilight of her 67-year reign, the Queen’s second son Andrew was forced to step down from public duties amid damning allegations by Virginia Giuffre that he had sex with her when she was 17 and had been trafficked by Epstein.
Andrew denies the allegations however his subsequent, disastrous Newsnight interview saw him accused of lacking empathy for Epstein’s victims and failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
“This latest scandal involving Andrew, which is not going to go away any time soon, is greatly upsetting for the Queen and it’s also quite damaging for the institution of the monarchy,” Joe Little, editor of Majesty magazine, told Yahoo News UK.
“It’s not something she would want to have associated with the royal family, so for them and for Buckingham Palace it’s an uneasy time.”
More worryingly for the Queen and those close to her, these recent scandals have brought into ever stronger focus the issue of what will become of the monarchy when she is no longer at the helm.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla
The recent health scare with her husband, the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, who was helicoptered to hospital over the Christmas period, only highlighted the frailty of both nonagenarian royals.
“When the reign changes – and of course, we might be looking at nearly another decade if the Queen lives to 101 like her mother – then King Charles III and Queen Camilla (which is how I think she will be known) are going to have a difficult time for many reasons,” said Little.
He claims the couple’s age (both are in their 70s) will be ‘problematic’ in terms of how many duties they can carry out and won’t afford them the same positive public sentiment the Queen had when she became monarch at the age of just 25.
Little also believes Charles and Camilla’s past will be ‘dredged up’ by the tabloids again and expects the new king to whittle the royal family down ‘to just his immediate family’ with Andrew the first to be axed.
“I think a lot of Andrew’s associations have already been severed, a lot more will be severed in the future and his name is rather tainted at the moment,” said Little.
The worst annus horribilis for the Royal Family may be yet to come.
Additional reporting by Jill Foster.
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