The cancellation of the Queen’s trip to Northern Ireland is a reminder that the head of state – at the age of 95 – cannot do what was expected of her 10 or 20 years ago, a royal commentator has said.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen’s autumn schedule had been more crammed than expected, but last-minute cancellations were inevitable in the future.
Since the Queen returned from Balmoral Castle at the start of October, she has met Canadian troops at Windsor, launched the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games, attended the Royal British Legion centenary service at Westminster Abbey, travelled to Cardiff for the Welsh Senedd opening, and hosted a global investment summit reception, as well as holding audiences and video calls.
Mr Little said: “I think when you get to the age of 95 and you have a role such as the Queen has, there is an inevitability about last-minute cancellations.
“Unfortunately, I think this is just how it’s going to have to be from time to time.
“The fact that she has been busy and seemingly healthy and happy of late shows that clearly looks can be deceptive unless something has happened overnight.”
He added: “Mentally, the Queen is pin sharp as ever and when she makes speeches she speaks well.
“But you notice that the body is perhaps a little bit less so.
“Every now and again there will be this reminder that she is 95 and she can’t do what was expected of her 10, 20 years ago.”
The Queen looked on good form when she greeted business leaders at Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening, but royal doctors on Wednesday morning ordered her to rest and advised her to pull out of her two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
Mr Little added: “People get very concerned, particularly when you don’t know the underlying cause … but it might just be a case of her taking her foot off the accelerator for a few days.”
The royal expert said he did not believe there would be a regency – when the Queen would remain Queen but the Prince of Wales would become a stand-in sovereign and take over the day-to-day duties.
“I certainly don’t think there’ll be any sort of regency unless there was a sharp deterioration in the Queen’s health and there was no alternative, but it certainly wouldn’t be a voluntary one on her part – and it’s not even worth discussing abdication,” Mr Little said.
Reports over the years suggested that the Queen would only seriously consider a regency when she reached 95, but she passed this birthday milestone in April.
Mr Little said the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations next year would look very different to the Diamond Jubilee a decade ago in terms of her public appearances.
“The workload has been spread for quite some time and that will continue to to happen,” he said.
He added of the Jubilee: “Other people will be doing engagements on her behalf. How much she does in the UK will be interesting to see.”