Should Queen Elizabeth be next for royal retirement?
Queen Elizabeth shakes the hand of her son Prince Charles at the end of the Queen's Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace last June. Charles has been in line for the monarch's role for 61 years, longer than anyone in British history. (AP Photo)
The word 'abdication' has a pretty bad reputation in the UK, unlike the Netherlands, where it is viewed as a natural succession process.
Still, it was hard to avoid the obvious question of when Queen Elizabeth would abandon the throne after Queen Beatrix, a woman 11 years her junior, announced she was stepping aside for her son this week. (Right, the good friends in Rotterdam in 2007)
The British newspapers couldn't help themselves from giving heir-for-life Prince Charles a little dig in the ribs. "Queen Gives Up Her Throne to Son," said the Daily Mirror, followed by the addendum: "Easy, Charles ... It's Queen Beatrix of Netherlands."
"Queen abdicates in favour of her middle-aged son!" wrote the Daily Mail, followed by the punch line: "(no sorry, Charles, not THAT queen ... the one in Holland)."
The fact is the only certain thing that will force Queen Elizabeth off the throne is death. Anything else would be considered a scandal, akin to the 1936 throne crisis when Edward abdicated for "the woman I love," Wallis Simpson.
In the Netherlands, abdication is handled like a pleasurable retirement party. Beatrix's mother Julianna retired in 1980 at age 71, and lived another 24 years. Julianna's mother, Wihelmina, gave up the throne in 1948 when she was only 61, dying in 1962. In fact, Beatrix is the oldest serving monarch in the country's history.
The royal tradition in Britain is much different, though occasionally debated. There, it is a job for life, and the Queen is not about set a precedent.
As Lord Norton, a professor of government, told the Guardian, the thought of abdication is "completely alien to our system, and it's also alien to our law, which stipulates who will succeed -- so the Queen remains the queen until such time as she dies, and then the succession is automatic."
But even that simple formula has been called into question, with people wondering if grandpa-to-be, 64-year-old Charles, should just let the throne skip his generation and go directly to his son Prince William. That notion, too, is far-fetched (and a relief to the not-ready-for-prime-time William).
So, Charles will get the throne at some point and have one of the shorter reigns. That will not be a tragedy, because he is likely accomplishing much more through his Prince's Charities than would be possible time-wise if he were king.
In the meantime, the Commonwealth has a Queen blessed with good health and a sense of duty second to none. She will rule till her deathbed and no one's in a hurry to get her there.
What's your opinion?
HARRY HAS 'TASTE OF BLOOD' IN BATTLE
The BBC documentary featuring Prince Harry in Afghanistan has had its airing in the UK this week, which will do nothing to improve the humour of the Taliban.
In "Prince Harry: Frontline Afghanistan," the viewer is presented with the prince as the swashbuckling soldier, filled with a deep thirst for action as he battles the boredom of waiting for the phone to ring.
"As soon as we get a shout, whatever it is, we all run to the aircraft, and at that point you have the taste of blood in your mouth," he says in one of the wide-ranging interviews done during his four-and-a-half month deployment to the war-torn country.
A Palace spokesperson tried to take a little bit of the edge off Harry's battle cry, telling the Telegraph: "He was describing how he copes with the adrenalin of a call-out, so it's important to understand the context in which he was speaking."
Here's that full BBC documentary:
PRINCE CHARLES MEETS CANADIAN CEOs
A dozen heads of Canadian companies sat down with Prince Charles in Clarence House on Tuesday to undergo a little royal arm-twisting.
The CEOs were in London to hear about the prince's Seeing is Believing program, where business leaders step out of their comfort zone and go into the community to put their skills to work solving grassroots social issues.
"CEOs solve problems for a living," said Amanda Sherrington, President of Prince's Charities Canada. "The goal is to see both the companies and the communities they serve transformed for the better."
Some of the Canadian companies represented were George Weston Ltd., RBC, Daniels Corp., Xerox Canada, Borden Ladner Gervais and Ground Efects Environmental Services.
The Seeing is Believing program has been running in the UK for 20 years and is now taking its foothold in Canada. The Tuesday session ended with a promise to the prince to start recruiting fellow business leaders across the country to join in the venture.
"We've started something powerful here," Pavi Binning, president of George Weston, said after the meeting with the Prince. "Now the real work begins."
Prince Charles meets members of the local community after a visit to Circle Sports in north London on Tuesday in London. The prince led a group of senior business leaders on a visit to Circle Sports, which is a business supported by one of the prince's charities, Seeing is Believing. The charity aims at helping unemployed young people become successful in business. (Getty Images)