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Charles of England, the eternal heir before Elizabeth II’s long goodbye | International

Seventy years of reign give the right to a break and to delegate tasks. And they advise to prepare the transition. But the sequence has become a classic. Every time Charles of England replaces his mother in any of the rites, ceremonies or liturgies that the vast majority of Britons have only seen, throughout their lives, Elizabeth II star, alarms go off. Shortly after, the monarch reappears at some event, to the relief of the most unconditional. It happened again this week. Buckingham Palace excused, just a few hours earlier, the queen’s presence at the opening ceremony of the British Parliament. A time of year of extraordinary political symbolism. The pomp and scenery of the event remind us that Westminster legislates in her name, and the Government that occupies Downing Street is the “Government of her majesty”. Charles of England occupied the throne of the consort, in the House of Lords. To his right, an empty space —where Elizabeth II’s throne should have been—, and a cushion on which the Imperial Crown rested, highlighted both the absence and the validity of the Head of State.

The Prince of Wales read the Queen’s Speech, the Johnson Government’s legislative agenda for the new term. He did it with the same neutral, almost flat tone that his mother has always used. A way to emphasize the necessary impartiality of the monarch in political matters. “Carlos is going to have to acquire that neutrality, if he wants to be successful as a constitutional king,” Ed Owens, historian of the contemporary British monarchy and specialist in the House of Windsor, explains to EL PAÍS.

UK citizens have listened for decades to the Prince of Wales’s varied and sometimes controversial views on architecture, urban planning, the environment or social justice. It is strange that he, like his mother, adopts the secrecy of the sphinx. “Perhaps he decides to assume a more active role when it comes to demanding that politicians respect and defend constitutional normality. Until now, the British monarch has been seen as the guardian of the nation’s democracy,” suggests Owens.

Charles of England occupies the consort's throne on Tuesday, replacing Elizabeth II, during the opening ceremony of the session of the British Parliament.
Charles of England occupies the consort’s throne on Tuesday, replacing Elizabeth II, during the opening ceremony of the session of the British Parliament.DPA via Europa Press (Europa Press)

All that, in any case, will have to wait. The queen delegated a single task to Carlos and for a very specific occasion, in the capacity of his royal adviser: to read his speech. Something that she, 96 years old, could not do, due to suffering “episodic mobility problems”, as explained by Buckingham Palace. On Friday, 72 hours later, Isabel II appeared smiling in her Range Rover, as co-pilot, to witness one of her favorite events of the year, the Royal Windsor Horse Show (Windsor Royal Equestrian Festival), where a dozen of his horses competed. With her eternal Hermès scarf on her head, and aided by a cane, she walked towards the royal box with a smile from ear to ear, applauded by those present.

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Enough to nip in the bud the purr about an abdication, even about a possible regency of Carlos, which had stirred the media and networks for a couple of days. A deep connoisseur of the rite and constitutional mystery that the monarchy supposes in the United Kingdom —she was anointed with sacred oil at her Coronation ceremony— Elizabeth II has made it understood on more than one occasion that she will be queen until the end. “Before you I declare that my whole life, long or short, will be dedicated to your service, and to the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong,” he promised, barely 21 years old, in a historic radio address from Ciudad del Cape (South Africa) of the then Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her birthday.

Elizabeth II, this Friday, in the royal box of the Royal Windor Horse Show.
Elizabeth II, this Friday, in the royal box of the Royal Windor Horse Show.DPA via Europa Press (Europa Press)

Everything unfolded lately is something simpler and less dramatic, as befits the character of a woman respected by a large majority of citizens. Suffice it as an example that the Scottish National Party, willing to hold a new independence referendum next year, maintains in its plans that Scotland remains a monarchy. And that has a lot to do with the broad support that Elizabeth II arouses in that nation.

In recent years, the queen has been sharing tasks and responsibilities with her son Carlos, without giving up even a millimeter of auctorites, in a slow and measured journey of transition that familiarizes the British with who, sooner or later, will be their new king, without conveying the feeling that Elizabeth II is in retreat. The idea of ​​a regency, which requires a complex mechanism, is not contemplated for a monarch who is simply suffering from the ailments of age and who has just gotten ahead even from covid-19.

“The Regency Acts of 1937, 1943 and 1953 require that an immediate family member of the monarch, along with the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker (Speaker of the House of Commons), the Chief Justice of the United Kingdom, and the Master of The Rolls (President of the Court of Appeal and historical guardian of judicial documents) certify that the sovereign can no longer carry out his functions”, has written the greatest expert in British constitutionalism and professor at King’s College, Vernon Bogdanor. “The queen cannot simply say, ‘I can no longer fulfill my obligations.’ The only voluntary decision that she can adopt is abdication”, Bogdanor defines.

2022 is the year of the Platinum Jubilee. Seventy years on the throne, which will be celebrated with official acts and celebrations during the month of June. If for a time there was speculation about the presence or absence of the ill-fated Prince Andrew (condemned to public ostracism for his links with the millionaire American pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein) or the controversial couple of Prince Henry and Meghan Markle in those celebrations, all eyes of the British will finally concentrate on Elizabeth II. In her mobility, her state of mind or how much or how little she lavishes. Although few express it out loud, in the United Kingdom the idea has already spread that the long goodbye of the monarch has begun. And the will of the majority aspires to what should happen —and the later, the better—, to be like a thaw. Like the morning when, suddenly, the snow is gone.

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