Smiling, but frighteningly gaunt and fragile, Queen Elizabeth II appeared as she asked new British Prime Minister Liz Truss to form a government this week. One photo showed the 96-year-old monarch leaning on a stick and giving her slender hand to the conservative politician.
The impression was not deceptive: the day of the change at the top of government on Tuesday, when the Queen had already received Boris Johnson and accepted his resignation, did not leave the Queen untouched.
First she had to cancel a virtual meeting of her privy council. She had had a full day and followed her doctors' advice to rest. "Following a further assessment this morning, the Queen's doctors are concerned about Her Majesty's health and have recommended that she remain under medical observation," a palace spokesman said. However, the Queen feels comfortable and is staying at her country estate, Balmoral Castle.
Royal Family makes its way to the Queen
Since the death of her husband Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99, the Queen has been aging. The signs are not good: Almost the entire royal family immediately made their way to Scotland. Including all four of the Queen's children. Heir to the throne Prince Charles (73), his wife Duchess Camilla (75) and Queen's daughter Princess Anne (72) are said to have arrived first. The Queen's two younger sons, Prince Andrew, 62, and Prince Edward, 58, are also reported to have headed to Scotland with his wife, Countess Sophie, 57.
Prince William (40) and Prince Harry (37) also made their way. The brothers' meeting will be under particular scrutiny since falling out with Harry, who lives in California with his wife Meghan. Meghan recently made headlines again with an interview about the royals. And promptly on Thursday it was said that the 41-year-old was also coming to Balmoral, but then she wasn't.
Prime Minister Truss, Speaker of Parliament Lindsay Holye and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby expressed concern and stressed that their thoughts and prayers are with the Queen and the Royal Family.
Concern about the Queen has been growing for weeks
At the Privy Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, Truss was to be sworn in as First Lord of the Treasury. In addition, some of her recently appointed cabinet colleagues should be included in the advisory body. The privy council now performs mainly ceremonial functions, but admission to it is considered to be the swearing-in of the new ministers. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date, the palace said.
In view of the Queen's dwindling powers, constitutional lawyer Craig Prescott, who teaches at the university in the Welsh town of Bangor, sees the time to revise the royal rules. In an interview with the German Press Agency, it is better to arrange for representation in advance than to postpone important Queen appointments at short notice.
Therefore, it is important to adjust the substitution rules, Prescott thinks. So far, this has mainly been used during the Queen's trips abroad and does not apply to the most important tasks. For example, only the Queen can appoint a new head of government or dissolve Parliament.
In addition, the group of people who can act as a substitute is very limited. According to the current status, two of only four Counselors of State have to step in for the Queen. According to the current rules, these are heirs to the throne Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.
The problem: Both Harry and Andrew are no longer eligible to represent the Queen. Andrew maneuvered himself into oblivion through his involvement in the abuse scandal involving the late US multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Harry has retired from royalty
Prince Harry, on the other hand, has voluntarily retired from the royal family. He now lives with Meghan and their two children Archie (3) and Lilibet (1) in the USA. He is at odds with his father Charles and his brother William and is not afraid to pour fuel on the fire again and again. The publication of his memoirs, which should turn out to be a reckoning with the Windsors, is expected soon.
Prescott therefore calls for a change in the law in the event that both Charles and William are abroad and, for example, a law must be passed quickly. According to the constitutional lawyer, it would be conceivable, for example, to include Princess Anne and other royals in the circle of Counselors of State.