Saturday, April 22, 2006

Queen Elizabeth Turns 80, While Charles Waits

NYT Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's monarch for 54 years, celebrated her 80th birthday on Friday, an occasion that drew headlines like "Elizabeth the Great" and "Our Great Mum" and also raised questions about her succession.... Earlier this week, a cousin of the queen, Margaret Rhodes, said she was "perfectly sure" the queen would not retire. The forecasts raised momentous questions. One is the destiny of Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, who is 57 and has spent most of his life grooming for the monarchy. "Given that her mother lived to 101, the queen is clearly in for the long haul," the columnist Simon Jenkins wrote in The Sunday Times of London. "Therefore the Prince of Wales must simply wait." Some, though, question whether Charles — less popular than the queen and sometimes criticized for expressing gadfly views on issues like food and architecture — would secure the same affection and national consensus as his mother. The queen's tenure, the columnist Max Hastings wrote Friday in the conservative Daily Mail, "defers a succession which could prove dangerous, unless the Prince of Wales discovers a late maturity."

Or unless they wise up and change the law of succession to bypass Charles and give it to his son, who is more mature than Charles, even though much younger.
Some took the argument further, questioning whether the head of state should still be hereditary. "What does it say about us if, even now, in the 21st century, our symbol is the child of a single, white, aristocratic family, chosen solely by the blood in her veins?"
It is just a ceremonial position; all real power has been taken over by the PM and Parliament. If you selected the Head of State by election or selection, he would demand a lot more power than the King or Queen have now.
Jonathan Freedland wrote Friday in the liberal newspaper The Guardian. "So let's wish the queen a very happy birthday; let's hope she has many more to come and in good health; let's thank her for all she has done.

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