January 29, 2013

Should one abdicate?

Those with any interest in the Royal Families of Europe will likely know by now that yesterday Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands announced her abdication.
Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands
The announcement got me thinking about the process of inheriting the throne and whether other Royal Families should adopt the ways of the Dutch Royal Family where by one inherits the throne after the reigning monarch abdicates rather than after their death.

I can see positives and negatives to both situations. With abdication you get the advantage that the current monarch, in this case Queen Beatrix, will get to, not only see her son become King, but also enjoy a much relaxed life. It also means that when Prince Willem-Alexander ascends to the throne at the end of the month, the event will be tinged with much less sadness than if Queen Beatrix were to have just died. I'm sure it will still be sad for those who like Queen Beatrix but at least she is still around even if she's not Queen.

Abdication also seems beneficial in that it allows a younger generation to take over the monarchy much sooner than they would have otherwise. Prince Charles is a perfect example. If Queen Elizabeth had decided to abdicate as Beatrix has, at 75, Prince Charles would have ascended to the throne at the age of 54. As it stands it looks like he won't actually become King until he's well into his 70's.

On the other hand, I feel that being monarch is a job you are born into and one that is therefore with you for life. It is not like a regular job where you can just hand in your notice when you want to move on. For those wondering whether Queen Elizabeth will follow suit, I can safely bet that she will not. She promised her life to her country on her 21st birthday, before she was even Queen, and that is a promise that she will keep.

Although slightly more superficial, abdication also means that Jubilee celebrations, particularly Golden and Diamond, just wouldn't happen. I feel like this is quite a major loss. Having lived through both the Golden and Diamond Jubilees, they really are events that help bring the country together and allow us to celebrate our monarch's reign. And, hey, they're a bloody good excuse for a party! 

Most people are quite happy with Queen Elizabeth not abdicating but there is a huge number of people that want Prince Charles to, so that the crown passes straight to Prince William. Now, don't get me wrong, I would absolutely love to see William and Kate on the throne but let's be honest here, as I said above, Prince Charles is unlikely to be King until he's nearly 80 which means he is unlikely to be on the the throne for long. He's already waited over 60 years for his moment so let him have it. Also, Prince William is only 30 and I think that because of the Queen being 25 when she came to the throne, people tend to forget that that is very young. Let him enjoy his life and his new family and then he can worry about becoming King later.

All in all, as much as I like the fact that each generation can take over earlier, I think I'm for the more traditional way of inheriting the throne, after the death of the current monarch. It makes more sense to me but then that is probably because I was born in the UK where it is the norm.

Well, that was was my ten penneth about the pros and cons of abdication. I hope you found it vaguely interesting and that all my rambling made some amount of sense to you. Let me know below what your thoughts are on Queen Beatrix's announcement and whether or not you think abdication is a good thing.


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