LONDON — One European queen has announced her retirement. Any chance Europe’s most famous queen – Elizabeth II of Britain – might join her?
Not likely, experts say.
The spectacle of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepping down in April at age 75 so her 45-year-old son can become king is sparking some speculation in Britain about whether Elizabeth might follow suit so her eldest son, Prince Charles, can start his reign.
Elizabeth is 86. Charles, 64, has been heir to the throne since he was three.
The British press poked fun at these concerns Tuesday, with the Daily Mirror featuring a photo of Beatrix with the headline: “Queen Gives Up Her Throne to Son.” Then, in smaller type, “Easy, Charles ... It’s Queen Beatrix of Netherlands.”
Others said, “Sorry Charles ... it’s in Holland, not here!”
But commentators quickly noted that Elizabeth – who seems to be in excellent health – has said in the past that she regards being queen as a “job for life.”
At her Diamond Jubilee last summer marking 60 years on the throne, former Prime Minister John Major said the idea that the queen would abdicate was “absolutely absurd.” He said she would serve her entire life unless a health crisis made it impossible.
Author Robert Lacey, who has written several books about the British monarchy, said Beatrix’s decision would likely firm up Elizabeth’s resolve.
“It would reinforce her feeling that the Dutch don’t know what monarchy is about, and that she should go on forever,” he said. “The crown is a job for life in the British system.”
He said the queen’s mother, who lived to be 101, had made a “snarky” comment when Beatrix’s own mother stepped down as monarch decades ago.
Lacey said the idea of abdicating is particularly unpleasant for Elizabeth because her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 so he could marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American woman.
The resulting scandal, remembered as a low point for the monarchy, brought her father, King George VI, to the throne.
No one in British history has been heir apparent as long as the now-greying Charles, who is set to become a grandfather when his daughter-in-law, the former Kate Middleton, gives birth this summer.