TOMORROW morning the Queen will arise in her bedroom in Windsor Castle and in many ways it will be a day like most others.
No matter that she is still deeply mourning the love of her life and the man who was by her side for 73 years.
Read our Royal Family live blog for the latest updatesTomorrow morning the Queen will arise in her bedroom in Windsor Castle, no matter that she is still deeply mourning the love of her life[/caption] Prince Charles and Prince Willian will be holding a summit, in consultation with Her Majesty, naturally, as to what to do[/caption]
And she will awake on this crisp and bright Windsor morning having turned 95 years old.
For Her Majesty the day will be yet another day devoted to service in her role as Britain’s monarch, a role which she will never take lightly and which she will continue to perform until she joins her beloved Philip.
But while her role is not — and has never been — in doubt, the role of her family for the next generations is less clear. Prince Charles and Prince William know this only too well so it comes as no surprise that they will be holding a summit — in consultation with Her Majesty, naturally — as to what to do.
Top of the agenda are two very thorny issues. Firstly, what is going to happen between the Royal Family and the Sussexes? More bluntly, how to rein in this very unpredictable couple?
The damage from the Oprah Winfrey chat show still shakes the family and there is no doubt that as future king, one of Charles’ jobs will be to keep the family as united as possible. At the moment it isn’t.
Precisely who got William and Harry talking after their grandfather’s funeral service is unclear. It was, however, a masterstroke. I hope that in time Meghan and Harry can be brought on board at least to the extent where they never again say anything that damages the Royal Family in the way their Oprah Winfrey interview has done.
Any form of reconciliation must ensure nothing like that ever happens again.
And there is Andrew. Can he resume royal duties? In my view there is no chance at all of that happening. The interview he gave to BBC Newsnight was imbecilic.For The Queen, the day will be yet another day devoted to service in her role as Britain’s monarch[/caption] Top of the agenda are two very thorny issues including what will happen between the Royals and the Sussexes[/caption]
He has not been charged with any criminal offence but is in disgrace and has had to step down. No one is going to draw up a plan for the Royal Family in the coming decades which includes Andrew.
Which leads us on to the main thrust of what the meeting will be about, exactly how big the Royal Family should be and what roles they should have.
Charles has long wanted to “slim down” the institution. In 2019 the royals performed over 3,000 engagements, ranging from opening buildings to attending the Rugby World Cup final in Japan.
That year 15 royals undertook duties from the Queen, including lesser known figures such as Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester. An assessment of the true value of these minor royal engagements is now urgently needed.
And then there are the patronages, the Crown’s links with hundreds of charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.
Of these there are many — more than 3,000 count an association with a royal. Prince Philip held around 750 patronages when he died, so what should happen to them?
With three working royals already out — Harry, Meghan and Andrew — there will be fewer people to do all this stuff, even if no numbers are cut. Indeed, Harry and Meghan attended 284 royal jobs between them in 2019, while Prince Andrew did 274.Charles, who carries out more than 500 engagements each year, will be conscious that a royal visit or patronage must continue to be special[/caption] But with Andrew having to step down, talks on how big the Royal Family should be and what roles they should have is needed[/caption]
It is inevitable that some patronages and engagements will go. You are looking at a practical scaling down already.
Charles, who carries out more than 500 engagements each year, will be conscious that a royal visit or patronage must continue to be special.
Likewise, as an ardent conservationist with a great grasp of climate change, he may feel it unwise to allow so many overseas trips.
Expect the Countess of Wessex to come increasingly to the fore. Sophie carried out 236 engagements in 2019 — more than William. The royals get stick for being old-fashioned but the reality is they are more adaptable than given credit for. They are nothing if not practical and reinvent the Monarchy for every new generation.
In 1917 the royal house changed its name from the Germanic Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the more English Windsor. It was felt necessary because Britain was fighting Germany in the First World War.
Marrying “commoners” rather than other royals is now the norm. None of the Queen’s grandchildren married a royal. And in 2013 primogeniture, meaning the eldest boy rather than a girl born before him will accede to the throne, was abolished.
So expect more changes that will fit in better with the times. Of course, certain things don’t need to change as they already have.
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They are by all accounts more touchy-feely, something you could never accuse the Queen of.
Some lambast the Palace as a conservative organisation. It is in fact really quite adaptable and practical.
It has survived the first thousand years. Now for the next thousand.
- Richard Fitzwilliams is a royal commentator and former editor of Who’s Who