Why the Queen can’t ‘simply’ quit the throne over increasing health concerns

The Queen has canceled multiple recent appearances due to poor health, but it looks unlikely she'll give up her Crown any time soon

Why the Queen can’t quit the throne despite health concerns
(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's repeated absences at royal engagements have led many to wonder if she should quit the job altogether, but retirement from the British monarchy isn't exactly a straightforward process. 


For most people in their 90s, a 40-hour workweek at the office is a distant memory. 

The average age to retire in the UK currently hovers around 65, one year before entitlement to the State Pension kicks in. At this stage, many Brits begin a whole new lease of life—with freedom from the rat race often giving way to more pleasurable activities, such as hobbies, volunteering, and socializing. 

This privilege, however, does not apply to the Queen. The 96-year-old, who recently passed her Platinum Jubilee, has now headed the Royal Family for over seven decades—making her the longest-running monarch in British history. 

Despite her advanced age and declining health, Her Majesty has continued steadfast to carry the Crown in all its glory. She still holds virtual audiences at Windsor Castle, performs her daily Red Box filing, and maintains regular correspondence with leaders in the Commonwealth and United Kingdom. 

Even during her physical absence at yesterday's State Opening of Parliament, her symbolic presence radiated through the positioning of the Imperial State Crown next to Prince Charles. 

Charles and crown

(Image credit: Getty)

It's undeniable, however, that the Queen has greatly retreated from royal life. Her Majesty has canceled multiple engagements over the past few months, including her upcoming summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Royal officials have also revealed that her attendance at her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June will be confirmed closer to the date, prompting widespread concerns over the stability of the monarch's health. 

Her no-show at the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday, which marked the first time she missed the event in 59 years, has only fuelled these worries. Many have suggested that the eldest of the Queen's children, Prince Charles, should step up and take over altogether. 

Queen and Prince Charles 2021

(Image credit: Getty)

According to royal experts, however, this option isn't exactly easy to practically pursue. If the Queen wishes to transfer her powers to the Prince of Wales without having to abdicate, a 'regency' would have to take place. However, this wouldn't happen without some tough board table talks between five key players in the British monarchy. 

“A regency requires three out of five dignitaries, the Prince of Wales, the lord chancellor, the Speaker of the Commons, the lord chief justice and the master of the rolls, to certify that the Queen is permanently—permanently—incapable of carrying out her duties," explains constitutional expert Prof Vernon Bogdanor.

"That judgment would no doubt be made on doctor’s advice. There is no evidence that this is the case. 

"The criterion is objective. The Queen cannot simply say: ‘I cannot carry out my duties.’ A voluntary decision she could in theory take is abdication.” 

So, unless the Queen is proven to be "permanently" incapable of fulfilling her role, she won't be hanging up her boots any time soon.

"The criterion is objective. The Queen cannot simply say: ‘I cannot carry out my duties.’ A voluntary decision she could in theory take is abdication.”

It has also been reported that Her Majesty has always shunned the idea of abdication, believing such an act to be in breach of the "pact" she made with God at her 1953 coronation. 

"She is an anointed Queen,” the royal historian Hugo Vickers told the Guardian. “And if you are an anointed Queen you do not abdicate.”

Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.