NewsWorldANALYSIS | Is the UK on track for...

ANALYSIS | Is the UK on track for a slow transition of power?

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London (CNN) — It was the most emotional reminder we’ve ever had that Britain’s queen is in the twilight of her reign: Prince Charles sitting on the consort throne at the Palace of Westminster, looking sadly at the crown of his mother, who took her place.
Elizabeth II has only missed the opening of Parliament twice in her 70-year reign, both because she was pregnant. This year she missed because she just couldn’t make it due to “mobility issues.” All we know about these problems is that they are “episodic”; the palace does not want to divulge any more details about her health, as they consider it a matter of patient confidentiality. Queen Elizabeth will not attend the opening of the British Parliament this year, announces Buckingham Palace What is clear is that the episodes are becoming more frequent and damaging. The queen continues to cancel engagements at the last minute, and that now includes those that were already confirmed on her schedule. The opening of the new parliamentary session is one of the main constitutional responsibilities of the British monarch. It cannot take place without it, just like the signing of parliamentary laws and the appointment of new prime ministers. Although her role is purely ceremonial and she only acts on the advice of ministers, British democracy would grind to a halt overnight without her. Fortunately, there are guarantees for these cases. The queen issued a legal notice known as a Royal Bill to give Prince Charles and Prince William the authority to open Parliament on her behalf. It is fortunate that they were available, as the other two stand-ins in the current system are Princes Andrew and Harry, who have resigned or been stripped of their royal responsibilities. This Friday, the queen was able to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show, one of her favorite events, and she was photographed smiling upon her arrival. However, while no one doubts Isabel’s commitment to duty and service, the reality is that for the time being she can only firmly commit to working from home. The queen arrives at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on Friday. This inevitably elevates the roles and profiles of Princes Charles and William. Both will have to prioritize the queen’s agenda over their own. There is no indication that the queen will abdicate and hand over the crown permanently to Charles, or that he will become Regent, which means being a monarch without the title. But both princes have been activated as Councilors of State, where the queen delegates her sovereign power for specific purposes. Now they have to be even more available for those tasks. Carlos has already juggled a busy week of commitments alongside the State Opening of Parliament. He threw a garden party at Buckingham Palace and appeared at Oxford University, London’s Canada House and a shoe store in south London in the three days since his visit to Westminster, which indicates their increasing workload. But he is the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history, and there is no doubt that he has the experience to take on a full royal agenda. The more we see him do it, the more familiar we’ll be with him in that role. He is the mechanism to prepare us for the next monarch, and reduces the culture shock that some will feel when it happens. Carlos may not be as beloved by the public as his mother at the moment, but we won’t really know how accepted he will be as a monarch until he becomes king. On the other hand, the queen’s reduced schedule raises obvious questions about whether we’ll see her during her four-day Platinum Jubilee celebration next month. Actual sources suggest we won’t know for sure until closer to the time, and probably only on the day of each event. Meanwhile, the organizers are crossing their fingers and trying to organize the queen’s public appearances in a way that minimizes her effort. People will understand if she can only be present in spirit, but it will add a hint of sadness to the events if the queen cannot enjoy them in person.

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