Is Queen Elizabeth Really Planning To Step Down in 2021?

Queen Elizabeth II is an institution. She’s been queen for so long, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who remembers a time when her father, King George, was on the throne. Other European monarchs of her generation have ceded the throne to the next generation, but not Queen Elizabeth. 

Most royal watchers have long suspected that the queen will hold the throne until she dies. For the first time, it seems like that might not be the case. After more than 60 years of her rule, there are credible rumors that she’ll retire soon.

A regency might be on the horizon

Queen Elizabeth at the opening of the Flanders' Fields Memorial Garden.
Queen Elizabeth II | Stefan Wermuth – WPA Pool /Getty Images

According to Vanity Fair, Prince Charles’ biographer claims the queen will retire at 95. She’s 93 now, so the official transition would happen in 2021.

The biographer claims that the queen isn’t thinking of abdicating, as other monarchs have done. Abdication means the queen gives up her throne and title completely. Prince Charles, her heir, would become king.

Queen Elizabeth is not considering this scenario. Instead, the queen would cede power to Prince Charles in the form of a regency.

In medieval times, a king would appoint a regent while he went off to war. The regent would essentially act as king in the monarch’s absence. This regency wouldn’t be much different.

Prince Charles would become Prince Regent and would take over all royal duties. The queen would retain her title. Also, she would still be able to wield some royal power.

Queen Elizabeth II is already preparing Prince Charles

Prince Charles’ royal biographer says the royal family is in a transition period. He claims the queen is preparing Prince Charles to take over in 2021 by giving him more responsibilities.

It certainly seems like that’s the case. Prince Charles was at the forefront of the Prince Andrew scandal, in a good way. Despite often being hidden by his mother’s shadow, his crisis management skills are shining through during these troubled times.

Prince Charles is presenting awards in the queen’s stead, and he accompanies her to most important meetings. Most notably, he will attend a meeting of NATO leaders in London alongside the queen. He’s been added to the distribution lists for all the important briefings that Queen Elizabeth receives.

Some have speculated Prince Charles is being positioned as a ‘shadow King.’ Essentially this means he would be doing all the royal work, but the queen would retain her title and any responsibilities would technically be hers.

Queen Elizabeth would just allow Prince Charles to perform them. A regency would be similar, except that Prince Charles wouldn’t be hidden in the shadows. It would be clear that he’s the one doing the ruling.

Royal insiders say there is no way Queen Elizabeth is stepping down

A regency seems like a win-win. Queen Elizabeth would maintain her title, but without the pressure of all the responsibility. After all, by 95, most people have already retired. The prince would be able to take over royal duties, but with his mother available to act as an advisor if needed.

However, sources close to Queen Elizabeth say that there are absolutely no plans for retirement or transfer of power of any kind. In fact, despite the drama surrounding her son Prince Andrew, she’s in good spirits.

Royal spokespeople claim the queen has no plans for retirement, “at 95 or at any other age.” One thing that she certainly is planning for her 95th birthday? A huge celebration.

Those who believe the queen is retiring think that this might be a kind of retirement party. However, the queen has celebrated big anniversaries before, and retirement wasn’t in the plans then either. The celebrations for the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne, were massive. If her 95th birthday party is anything like that, there’s definitely a lot to look forward to, retirement or not.