Will the Queen Retire? Secrets Behind What Would Happen If She Abdicates, Revealed

Queen Elizabeth has run the British monarchy since she was 25 years old. But at 91, there is a lot of speculation as to whether she is gearing up to abdicate the throne. Would that really happen? Is it set in stone Prince Charles will take the throne? Heck, is abdicating even the same as retiring? (That answer may surprise you.) Here are the hints and secrets that could give us an idea what the queen plans to do.

Hints at abdication

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles

Prince Charles is next in line — for now. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Royal watchers have been wondering about the queen’s status as head of the monarchy for some time now. Her age — she’ll be 92 in April — is one hint that she might step aside. The fact that her husband, Prince Phillip, has taken a step back from his royal duties has also led people to believe the queen will do the same. Then, there was Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas message, which many think hints at abdication in 2018.

Next: But those aren’t the only hints at an exit.

The most telling sign she’ll step aside

Queen Elizabeth II walks down the stairs of her plane upon her arrival with Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Tegel airport

Queen Elizabeth has been limiting her public appearances. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The biggest indicator that Queen Elizabeth will abdicate came in 2017 when she stopped making as many public appearances. Even after weathering a heavy cold around the new year that kept her hidden, the queen began handing many of her appearances and other public royal duties over to her eldest son, Prince Charles. It’s believed this is to usher him into position to take the crown from her. (More on that in just a bit.)

Next: Just how does this abdication thing work, anyway?

The abdication process

Edward VIII was the last monarch to abdicate. | Central Press/Stringer/Getty Images

If Queen Elizabeth chooses to abdicate the throne, the government takes part in the process to ensure the transition to the heir apparent goes smoothly. This would also make the queen the first monarch to voluntarily abdicate since King Edward VIII famously left the throne to marry an American divorcee in 1936.

Next: Who gets to wear the crown next?

Line of succession

Prince William and Kate Middleton Helicopter

After Charles, William and his children are next in line. | Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth would, of course, be abdicating to Prince Charles. At the age of 69, he would be the oldest member of the royal family to take over the monarchy. Charles is then succeeded by his oldest son, Prince William, followed by William’s children with wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Next: Could someone else be taking the throne instead?

A break in the succession?

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla

Charles seems like he wants to be king. | Arthur Edwards-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, there are constant rumors that Prince Charles might not be the next ruler after all. Some believe that Charles will abdicate his position, so the younger generation can rule. (It doesn’t hurt that Prince William is much younger or that Prince Charles has a low approval rating.) But it has also been said Charles has no desire to give up the chance to be king.

Next: “King Charles” is already a point of contention.

The rest of the family

Left to right: Kate Middleton, Prince William, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry on Christmas Day 2017.

If Charles takes the throne, other members of the royal family could be forced out. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The idea of Prince Charles being the next ruler has much of the rest of his family in a tizzy. Charles wants to make the immediate circle in the royal family smaller, alienating his siblings and their families. Prince Andrew and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, have been particularly vocal in not wanting Charles to head the monarchy for these reasons.

Next: Here’s a thought …

Could the queen just simply retire?

Queen Elizabeth could follow the lead of her husband, Prince Andrew, and retire. | Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Royal Central explains Queen Elizabeth could essentially retire from her royal duties without giving up the crown. In this case, Prince Charles would become Prince Regent and carry out all Elizabeth’s royal duties without becoming king. Elizabeth would be able to make a public appearance if she sees fit, but Charles would still lead the event.

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