How Queen Elizabeth Will Pass the Torch to Prince Charles and the Rest of the Royal Family in 2019
The secret to the longevity of the British monarchy is a quite brilliant smoke and mirrors combination of evolution and stability. For centuries this historic institution has managed to stay relevant while also appearing immutable. Maintaining a still point in our frenetically turning world is also how the Queen has approached her role as Head of State: while everything around her changes, Her Majesty stays the same—a feat she pulls off with significant aplomb.
While 13 U.K. Prime Ministers have passed through Buckingham Palace’s drawing room and 11 U.S. Presidents have sought royal favor, Her Majesty has remained a reliable symbol of duty and steadfastness, devoting her “whole life to the service of the great imperial family” as she pledged on her 21st birthday in 1947.
But as we head into 2019, the House of Windsor is preparing for huge internal changes. The courts of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, and Kensington Palace are set to shimmy into new positions to take the monarchy forward. While it may not feel appropriate to talk about a dénouement to this happy and glorious Elizabethan marathon, with Her Majesty turning 93 in April, moves are afoot behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition to the next royal era.
Queen Elizabeth at her coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953
Achieving this shift while outwardly still looking and feeling like the same royal family is where the magic happens. The official photographs for Prince Charles’ 70th birthday were the first steps toward establishing the new royal firm with the Prince of Wales, his wife, his sons
QUEEN ELIZABETH II QUIETLY WINDS DOWN.
Queen Elizabeth at the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn in early December 2018
Prince Philip quite sensibly put his feet up 16 months ago, retiring from public duty halfway through 2017, and Her Majesty spent all of 2018 without her consort by her side. Now, the Queen is unlikely to ever retire—or abdicate, as it would amount to in monarchical vocabulary. She made that clear not just in a 1947 speech, but again in Parliament during the Diamond Jubilee when she stated: “I…rededicate
It is unlikely that Her Majesty will go on overseas tours or visits; these have been scaled back for some years now. And in the UK, the Queen’s engagements will also be tailored to her age, with many of the more far-flung or lengthy duties passed on to Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
THE PRINCE OF WALES STEPS UP.
Prince Charles lays a wreath on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II during the annual Remembrance Sunday service.
It’s a role Prince Charles has been preparing for his whole life and while he’s still not quite there yet, the Heir Apparent has already taken on more and more of the Queens’s duties. In April the Prince of Wales was appointed his mother’s successor as Head of the Commonwealth, and it is most likely to be Charles who opens the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda.
Charles will gently move into a quasi-Prince Regent position over the next few years
What’s more, according to royal reporter Robert Jobson’s new book Charles at 70: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams, Her Majesty is already including her son in meetings about matters of state, and he has been added to the distribution list for the Queen’s official despatch boxes. This is a big deal—we are talking about the government papers and briefing documents Her Majesty receives as Head of State, and many believe, it is the first sign that Charles will gently move into a quasi-Prince Regent position over the next few years.
THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL PREPARES FOR HER BIGGEST ROLE YET.
Charles and Camilla used this photo, taken on the grounds of Clarence House, for their Christmas card.
In support of her husband, the Duchess of Cornwall’s roles
The jury’s still out on whether she will be Queen Consort in the reign of what is likely to be King Charles III, but she will certainly be well-prepared for the transition.
PRINCE WILLIAM TAKES CHARGE.
Prince William representing the Queen at the Sovereigns Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
As second-in-line to the throne, Prince William is now fully devoted to royal duty. This is the work and life he was born to, but he is doing it his way. William has already drawn a line in the sand with the media to protect his children from the intrusion that blighted his own childhood, and with both Prince George and Princess Charlotte at school and Prince Louis not yet a toddler, it is likely the public will get very limited access to the royal tots.
Along with Prince Charles and Princess Anne, William has upped the number of investiture ceremonies he presides over, taking the weight off his grandmother’s shoulders. And while William has taken the lead on issues like cyberbullying and illegal wildlife trade, his wife the Duchess of Cambridge has forged ahead with her own initiatives in areas including maternal health and early childhood and children’s mental health.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.
This is an exciting new approach to royal patronages adopted by both William and Harry and their spouses, where they roll up their sleeves and get involved, rather than sit as figureheads.
But with Prince Harry now married and starting his own family, it is likely that 2019 will see the two brothers develop separate spheres of influence. This is not the rift the tabloid media has gone into a frenzy over, but a natural evolution that maximizes the number of projects the
IT'S A SUSSEX REVOLUTION.
Harry and Meghan at the Sydney Opera House while on their royal tour of Australia.
Much has been made of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s upcoming move out of Kensington Palace and into Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. This will be the family home as two become three in 2019, welcoming a new baby. While the Palace has in no way indicated that Prince Harry is setting up his own court separate from his brother, the Sussexes have proved themselves to be eager to take charge of their royal work, Prince Harry with the Invictus Games and Meghan with her ground-breaking speeches supporting female empowerment and her support for the charity cookbook Together. The duo is also now official Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors, and so pretty much have a royal mandate to roam the globe supporting young people.
Meghan is just starting to build her role but she has hit the ground running and it’s hard to imagine that becoming a mother in 2019 will stand in her way. “She is very enthusiastic and ambitious to use her position, both on her own with issues that she’s passionate about,” says Dominic Reid, chief executive of the Invictus Games Foundation.
One thing to watch will be whether baby Sussex will be granted a Prince or Princess title by the Queen. It has been reported that Prince Harry would rather his children did not have royal titles following in the footsteps of Princess Anne’s children Zara and Peter Phillips. What they choose will be a major indicator of where the royal family is headed in decades to come.
Watch this space!
Juliet Rieden is
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors