There are three things the Queen will never do: grant a media interview, disclose the contents of private conversations and abdicate from a lifelong commitment to service.
So when Paul Sheehan over at the Sydney Morning Herald quixotically insists that Elizabeth must follow Beatrix and bring in a new generation, we need to understand the true motivation here: "the media has a vested interest in change. It is good for circulation and ratings." Indeed Professor Flint, but let us go through a couple of his assertions:
[Queen Beatrix] is stepping aside to refresh the monarchy and keep it vital. In contrast, the British monarch, by staying on, and on, is making the monarchy appear solid but ossified. Elizabeth may have a private wit, but her public personality has become stultifying. Her speeches are scripted into corporate caution and are delivered with a woodenness devoid of vivacity.What is ossified is this very statement - one wonders if he plagiarized any of it from Lord Altrincham's 1957 critique of the monarch, who famously said exactly the same thing when the Queen was still young and glamorous. In fact, her public personality has remained remarkably the same all these sixty plus years.
If the Queen stays on until she is 90 it will be a vote of no-confidence in her eldest son, invite infirmity into the image of the monarchy, and confirm a sense of insecurity around the royal succession. The last time a British monarch abdicated it created a national trauma, when Edward VIII chose love over duty and abdicated in 1936 to marry an American divorcee.It has nothing to do with confidence in her son or insecurity around the royal succession, but everything to do with the traditional role and function of our reigning monarch. If the role of monarchy is to be essentially symbolic and exemplary in nature, as Scotland’s Ian Bradley has written, “it would be hard to think of any Head of State in the world who has more consistently and faithfully embodied the principle of selfless, even sacrificial devotion to duty” and who has stood “as an exemplar of probity, decency and incorruptibility while in other respects moving with the times and never appearing stuffy or censorious.”
For a great read on why the Queen will never abdicate, I highly recommend Robert Hardman's wonderful article in the Daily Mail.