Should Queen Elizabeth step down from the throne?
- Queen Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, and was crowned on June 2, 1953. She remains the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
- As British monarch, Queen Elizabeth is Head of the Anglican Church, as well as Head of the Commonwealth, “an association of 54 independent countries, most of which were once colonies or outposts of the British Empire.”
- As of 2021, the British line of succession after the queen’s rule ends is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, followed by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. However, a recent survey reported that 47% of respondents would prefer Prince William to become king instead of his father.
- Queen Elizabeth’s role as head of state--as opposed to the prime minister, who is head of government--involves giving regular speeches at the opening of each new Parliament and making official appearances and speeches throughout the year. She also “keeps in close contact with the prime minister and is regularly briefed on all important national matters, but never publicly weighs in on political debates—nor are any final decisions up to her.”
While there have been a number of articles speculating on whether Queen Elizabeth II should step down in the wake of Prince Philip's recent death, the truth is, there's little cause to think she would or, indeed, should.
First, let's get the obvious out of the way: she doesn't have to! There's no obligation within the British monarchy to retire the crown, no matter the monarch's age--and the line of succession remains the same either way unless a potential heir deliberately abdicates.
This might be different if she were to step aside or assign a regent for health reasons, say an Alzheimer's or cancer diagnosis. However, there doesn't appear to be much of an argument being made in this direction except for 'she's old.' And while that might be of some concern for a prime minister, whose routine as head of government remains quite active, the queen's role as head of state is largely ceremonial and doesn't require a tremendous amount of day-to-day work. And even those functions were reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The framing of the issue --'Despite Loss of Husband, Little Sign Queen Elizabeth Will Abdicate'--also reads as a little sexist. While Philip's death is undoubtedly a personal loss for the queen, he never had an official government function, nor was he in line for the throne. Queen Elizabeth has already had to carry out her duties through the grieving process once before, after her father's death led to her coronation at the age of 25, and there's no reason to think she can't do so again. An assumption otherwise comes across as, at best, paternalistic.
Yes, the queen should step down from the throne, especially in the wake of the recent death of her dearly beloved husband, Prince Philip. Queen Elizabeth once said about her role that 'It is a job for life,' and that no matter how long she lived, she would be devoted to service. However, this declaration rings a bit hollow in light of her ending her international tours and stepping down as patron of various charities and organizations—all within the last decade. It appears selfish and prideful to remain the queen while not having most of the queen's actual responsibilities.
Queen Elizabeth has repeatedly said that she will not step down, even summoning her promise to God to stay the queen until the day she dies; however, someone who is fresh, young, and new could provide a better vision for England's future. With unprecedented challenges facing the world--COVID-19 and climate change among them--a shifting viewpoint on all governmental bodies has emerged. England's ruling monarch is a highly influential position, with the potential for substantial positive changes to be made in the hands of someone with a fresh perspective.
With members of the British royal family jumping ship to pursue a more normal way of life, it is high time that Queen Elizabeth realized that she is not doing her country any favors by clinging to a title that has little responsibility attached to it. Perhaps the best service Queen Elizabeth could offer her country is to step aside and make way for someone else.
Isn't seven decades enough?
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