Sharp rise in number of Brits who want Queen to retire

·3-min read
Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor. Picture date: Friday May 13, 2022. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor. Picture date: Friday May 13, 2022. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

There has been a significant increase in the number of people who think the Queen should retire rather than remain monarch for life, a new poll shows.

According to analysis by YouGov for Times Radio, one in three people now think she should retire.

The Queen made a surprise appearance at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on Thursday, despite missing the state opening of parliament earlier this week that saw Prince Charles step in her place for the first time.

She has missed a series of public events amid mobility issues in recent weeks and will also skip the royal garden party season this summer.

Polling by YouGov into whether the Queen should retire started two years ago, with more than half of people consistently thinking she should remain Queen for the rest of her life.

Around only a quarter thought she should retire and "step down from the throne".

But the latest survey shows a marked shift, with a third (34%) saying the Queen should retire, and less than half (49%) saying she should remain as Queen.

Read more: Why Prince Charles read out the Queen's Speech in such an emotionless way

It has long been a commonly held belief that the Queen would never step down from the throne.

She witnessed first hand the turmoil caused by the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII, in 1936, which ultimately led to her becoming Queen.

On the Queen's 21st birthday she promised: "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".

For many Royal commentators, this was a promise taken seriously, suggesting the Queen would avoid stepping down at all costs.

Fewer than half of Brits think Elizabeth should remain as Queen for the rest of her life. (Yahoo News UK/YouGov)
Fewer than half of Brits think Elizabeth should remain as Queen for the rest of her life. (Yahoo News UK/YouGov)

However, retirement is not the same as abdication.

In the event that the Queen cannot act as monarch due to illness or other situations, Prince Charles would become Prince Regent rather than immediately becoming King.

For that to happen, medical evidence would be required and several people would have to declare Her Majesty incapacitated including the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Master of the Rolls.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales seated next to the Queen's Imperial State Crown in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster on May 10, 2022 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament formally marks the beginning of the new session of Parliament. It includes Queen's Speech, prepared for her to read from the throne, by her government outlining its plans for new laws being brought forward in the coming parliamentary year. This year the speech will be read by the Prince of Wales as HM The Queen will miss the event due to ongoing mobility issues. (Photo by Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Charles took the Queen's place at the State Opening of Parliament this week. (Getty)

On Monday, a royal expert said Prince of Wales was “teetering on the edge of becoming a de facto prince regent”, with Buckingham Palace keen to show the monarchy is “safe in the hands of father and son” ahead of the Queen's Speech.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the opening of Parliament by both Charles and the Duke of Cambridge was a “significant moment for two future kings”.

The Queen delegated certain powers as head of state to Charles and William as Counsellors of State to open Parliament on her behalf on Tuesday in an unprecedented move.

Constitutional expert Dr Bob Morris, of UCL’s Constitution Unit, said it was “more likely than not” that the arrangements would continue for future state openings, meaning the Queen, who is now 96 and facing “episodic mobility problems”, may not ever open Parliament again.

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