There have been rumours the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are heading towards retirement as the pair enter their late 90s.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in 2000, Prince Philip once said he had ‘no desire whatsoever’ to live to 100.
“I can’t imagine anything worse,” Prince Philip quipped. “Bits of me are falling off already.”
Prince Philip stepped down from royal duties in August 2017, at the age of 96.
If this is a precedent, it means Queen Elizabeth II may look to slow things down soon as she turns 94 in 2020.
If so, Kate and Wills are destined to become the ruling monarchs of England earlier than we think.
The Duchess is understood to be named Queen Consort when her husband Prince William takes to the throne.
This is the same royal title bestowed to the Queen Mother when her husband King George VI was coronated.
While she won’t be officially known as the ‘Queen of England’, it is widely believed the Duchess will be referred to as either Queen Catherine or Queen Kate when the time comes.
In recent times, Queen Elizabeth has made several public moves which indicate she trusted Princess Kate and is ready to see her step up as future Queen.
While Prince William was on a royal visit to the Middle East, Kate went solo during a NATO reception at Buckingham Palace, greeting world leaders and representing the monarchy alongside Her Majesty.
Kate’s impeccable performance without her husband by her side is a clear suggestion she will certainly rise up to the occasion when Prince William is King.
Kate’s appearance at the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace was also a test for the Queen-in-training.
The Duchess wore the Lover’s Knot tiara from the House of Garrard, a century-old heirloom which was also the tiara of choice for Princess Diana.
What the royal family wear and how they present themselves during royal appearances is crucial for their image – so Kate’s headdress of choice could be a subtle hint she’s ready to step up.
Duchess Kate was also awarded more responsibility when she became patron of the Family Action charity, a post also held by the Queen herself.
The royal family partake in a lot of charity work, but this appointment was extra special.
Queen Elizabeth has held the position for more than 60 years and it is an organisation very close to her heart.
Royal experts say this move is another indication the Queen is slowly trusting Kate with more responsibilities and is mentoring her in all things Queenhood.
“Everyone at Family Action would like to extend our thanks to Her Majesty for her steadfast support and encouragement to us over so many years,” CEO David Holmes said.
“I have seen The Duchess’s passionate support for disadvantaged families firsthand and have been impressed by her leadership in understanding and promoting the vital importance of the Early Years. Family Action looks forward to working with The Duchess in the years to come.”
However before Kate and Wills assume the thrones as King and Queen, next in line is Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles.
Heir to the throne Charles, 71, is said to have big plans for the royal family when he eventually takes over the throne.
He reportedly wants to dramatically slim down the number of working royals, keeping it to a bare minimum to avoid scandals such as his brother Prince Andrew’s crisis.
It is believed Charles will cut down the monarchy to a core group of royal members, consisting just his own family, their partners and their children.
“The process of slimming the monarchy has already begun as we know Charles was pushing his mother to meet with Andrew and have him step back from his royal duties,” Brittani Barger of Royal Central said. “I think when it’s all said and done, the monarchy will be Charles and his children and grandchildren.”
Duchess Kate isn’t the only next generation princess to follow in the Queen’s footsteps.
Australia’s own Crown Princess Mary has been quietly preparing for her future role as Queen of Denmark alongside her husband Prince Frederik.
In December last year, a Danish palace announcement authorised Mary to take on Queen Margrethe’s royal duties in her absence.
“The Crown Princess will in future be able to fulfil the Queen’s obligations as head of state, when the Queen is prevented from doing so, for example when staying abroad,” read the statement.
According to royal insiders, this opportunity presented a good practice run for Mary, who will take on the leading role when 79-year-old Queen Margarethe eventually abdicates.
A palace source previously said Princess Mary, 47, has earned her mother-in-law’s blessing as future Queen.
“She thinks Mary is a very strong woman who brings out the best in her son,” says the royal insider.
Since her husband Prince Henrik’s death in February 2018, speculation has been rife that the Danish Queen will soon step down from royal duties and allow her son Frederik to take the reins.
She told Danish publication she was still grieving for the loss of her husband and her royal duties take her mind off the heartbreak.
“We take the days as they come. That is the only way to live. I’m so lucky that I still have a job. It’s a huge help. It’s actually mighty good and healthy,” Margrethe said.
Although it is very rare for a Danish royal to abdicate, it’s widely thought Margrethe will step down from the position she’s held for more than 47 years next April when she turns 80.
In 2019 on her 79th birthday, the monarch gave a clear indication that she was finally ready to hand over the power.
At a private dinner to celebrate the event, she reportedly toasted Mary and Frederik, saying she wanted them to take over after her next birthday.
“You are ready and you will be amazing at your job,” an emotional Margrethe apparently told her son and daughter-in-law.
“I trust you and feel secure handing over to such a wonderful couple.”
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