As Spanish king abdicates, British queen stays put
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II may be Europe's oldest monarch but there is little chance of the 88-year-old joining the wave of sovereigns giving up the throne, experts said Monday.
While Spain's King Juan Carlos announced Monday he was abdicating -- following similar moves in Belgium and the Netherlands last year -- it seems Elizabeth, and her distant cousins on the thrones of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, are firmly staying put.
"She will die on the throne," said historian Kate Williams, recalling that the British monarch herself has called it a "job for life".
It is understood that Elizabeth views her coronation oath, made before God and her people, as binding until death.
"The queen will not abdicate because she is a consecrated monarch and she pledged to serve throughout her life," said royal historian Hugo Vickers.
He added: "She doesn't have to abdicate: if anything goes wrong, she can have a regency like George III."
From 1811 until his death in 1820, king George III's eldest son carried out his father's duties in his name, with the monarch incapacitated through mental illness.
Vickers said that King Juan Carlos, 76, had recently "lost a lot of respect and his health has been poor".
Meanwhile the British queen is "firing on all cylinders", hosting a garden party on Tuesday, opening parliament on Wednesday in one of the showpiece annual royal occasions, and then heading for a state visit to France on Thursday and Friday.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the Spanish king's abdication, as they did when queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepped down in April 2013, and king Albert II of Belgium did likewise three months later.
As for Elizabeth's own position on abdication, the best guide on record remains her 21st birthday broadcast to the Commonwealth, made in 1947 from Cape Town.
"I can make my solemn act of dedication with a whole empire listening," she said.
"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."
- 'A-word, unmentionable' -
Her father, king George VI, was brought to the throne in 1936 by the abdication of his elder brother king Edward VIII, who shocked the empire by giving up the throne a few months into his reign in order to marry US divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Elizabeth witnessed the way that abdication rocked the stability of the monarchy, in what was widely seen as a selfish and irresponsible dereliction of duty.
Her mother, queen Elizabeth, never forgave Edward for the strain it placed on her husband and is thought to have blamed him for sending George to an early grave in 1952.
"For our queen abdication is unthinkable; the A-word is unmentionable," said Robert Hazell, director of the Constitution Unit at University College London.
However, the gentle transition of public duties to her eldest son Prince Charles, 65, is already under way, following the queen's diamond jubilee in 2012.
She has substantially scaled back her foreign travel, with Charles taking on more of the strain, while the merger of their media operations was seen as a sign of their operating more as a joint unit.
And in Scandinavia, Norway's 77-year-old King Harald V, Denmark's 74-year-old Queen Margrethe II and Sweden's 68-year-old King Carl XVI Gustaf are likely to carry on.
Norwegian royal expert writer Tor Bomann-Larsen told AFP the Scandinavian monarchies were also institutions where "abdication is not the custom".
Elizabeth is set to become the longest-reigning British monarch on September 10 next year, breaking the record set by her great-great grandmother queen Victoria, who died in 1901 after 63 years, 216 days on the throne.
Charles claimed in a 2010 interview with US television network NBC that he did not dwell on acceding to the throne.
"It's all in the providence of God, isn't it really?" he said.
"I may drop dead long before then."
© 2014 AFP