Will the Queen step down after Prince Philip's death?

Lifestyle Team
·3-min read

Despite the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, her partner and confidant during a record-breaking reign, there is little chance that 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth will abdicate, royal watchers believe.

Philip, Elizabeth's husband for more than seven decades and the longest-serving consort in British history, died on Friday aged 99.

He married Elizabeth in 1947 and had been with her throughout her 69-year reign. He was the person who broke the news to her while they were in Kenya in 1952 that her father, George VI, had died and that she was now queen at age 25.

Despite the huge hole in her life that Philip's death leaves, aides and royal experts have long said it would not lead to the world's oldest and longest-reigning living monarch relinquishing the throne in favour of her son Prince Charles.

"I can assure you the queen will not abdicate," royal historian Hugo Vickers said. 

"There is every indication the Queen is in extremely good health and with luck she will continue to be our queen for as long as possible."

Queen Elizabeth II during the National Service of Remembrance
Despite losing her confidant the Queen is unlikely to step down. Photo: Getty

Elizabeth continued to carry out her official duties, albeit remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions, even while Philip was in hospital for four weeks earlier this year.

Royal watchers say part of the reason why Elizabeth would avoid giving up the crown was the manner in which she became queen herself. When she was born in 1926, it was not expected she would ever become the monarch.

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But her uncle Edward VIII abdicated because of his love for American divorcee Wallis Simpson, which the British establishment deemed an unacceptable union, prompting a constitutional crisis that saw the crown passed to her father George VI when she was 10 years old.

"It is a job for life," Elizabeth once said, echoing a promise she made on her 21st birthday in 1947.

queen
The Queen is the UK's longest reigning monarch. Photo: Twitter

Speaking to the nation then while on tour of South Africa she said: "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

That means she would not follow the leads of other European monarchs such as King Juan Carlos of Spain who abdicated in 2014, King Albert of Belgium who quit in 2013 and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who stepped down the same year.

However, she might pass on even more official duties to Charles, 72, and other members of the Windsor family who have taken over much of her workload.

She has all but ended international tours, and reduced the number of her patronages, passing on her role at dozens of charities, academic institutions and sporting bodies to other royals.

However, "the Queen will remain very firmly the queen", said royal historian Robert Lacey, the historical consultant to hit Netflix drama The Crown, pointing to government plans to mark the her 70th year on the throne in 2022.

Reporting by AAP.

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