Seventy-five-year -old Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands recently hung up her scepter and handed over power to her middle-aged son. Her subjects cheered, a few wept but nothing out of the ordinary happened.
In February, Pope Benedict made history by being the first pope to resign while in office. The Catholic world seems to have grappled successfully the historical oddity of having the ex-Pope and his successor, Pope Francis, functioning at the same time.
The new king of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander has ascended to his throne with favourable reviews so far from his countrymen. In business, profession and industry, every day, aging people retire handing over power and authority to younger men. The rationale being that new blood will bring modern and progressive thinking and ideas to the job.
By now I guess you know where this is leading. We wish Her Majesty the Queen a very long life. Research indicates that her reign has been unprecedented among British monarchs. King George III and Queen Victoria, two of the longest reigning monarchs, both 81, died while on the throne while the Queen, born in 1926, has lived six years more than both.
Some monarchists believe that the main thing preventing the Queen from stepping down is the promise she gave to the citizens of the Empire that
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
There is no doubt that the Queen has served her subjects in Britain and the Commonwealth well. She has stood strong in times of crisis and has been a source of admiration to everyone.
She has seen major constitutional changes in her realms, such as the patriation of the Canadian constitution. On a personal level, she has seen the births and marriages of her children, the births of her grandchildren, the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and has celebrated her Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, and 2012, respectively.
During her reign, she had to deal with major crisis events in Northern Ireland, and wars in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the personal tragedies she had to face include the breakdown of her children’s marriages in 1992, the death in 1997 of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the deaths of her mother and sister in 2002. Despite all this, she has remained steadfast and strong with the result that support for the monarchy and her personal popularity has been high.
But as they say, an intelligent person plans his or her own exit so that history can remember him/her fondly and judge with gratitude for realizing when it’s time to quit. . Otherwise what’s the difference between her and those dictators who cling to power and even legislate their reign to become presidents for life?
Meanwhile our king-in-waiting, Prince Charles, has been performing his duties diligently, some of which for all intents and purposes, are fit for a king. He has been anxiously waiting for his day to become the king for the past 30 years. Prince Charles has represented the Queen on numerous occasions and in various countries, the latest being in Sri Lanka where he will represent the Queen for the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November.
Everyone in the realm is anxiously awaiting the birth of the Queen’s latest great grandchild, who is expected in mid-July. Born to Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, he/she will be the heir to the heir to the heir to the throne. It would be timely exit for the Queen to step down and give herself more time to spend with her great grandchildren and her horses. If the Dutch monarch and the Pope are allowed to retire, why not the Queen?