Opinion: Are we witnessing a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace?

These swans, pictured at Stoke Bruerne last weekend, will spend their adult lives together... much like the Queen and Prince PhilipThese swans, pictured at Stoke Bruerne last weekend, will spend their adult lives together... much like the Queen and Prince Philip
These swans, pictured at Stoke Bruerne last weekend, will spend their adult lives together... much like the Queen and Prince Philip | other
John Griff is a broadcaster in Northamptonshire

Might we be witnessing the start of the end – in public at least – of the Queen’s tenancy of the throne?

The news in the last fortnight of the Queen’s withdrawal from public life – for the foreseeable future at least – is perhaps to be expected.

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At the age of 94, nobody would begrudge Her Majesty stepping back from the rigours of public life, not only to protect her from the current situation over Covid-19, but also to spend whatever time she and her husband, Prince Philip, still have ahead of them together.

Like two swans they have shared each other’s lives rarely apart and with the prince’s own withdrawal a couple of years ago, I’m sure that, of late, Her Majesty has missed his presence beside her.

If it is retirement which awaits her – be it full, partial or in name only – I hope she will enjoy a time of relaxation reflecting on a job very well done.

The withdrawal of the Queen does now, of course, leave space for Prince Charles to assume a more prominent role as managing director of The Firm.

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For some time he has been quietly increasing both the number and extent of his own duties in advance of becoming our future king.

I thought it was particularly apparent in the way that he and Camilla conducted themselves on VE Day 2020, when they both appeared together at Balmoral before a memorial stone at which they both laid tributes, accompanied by a lone piper.

In some ways I think that piper symbolised the Queen, woken as she has been every day by the sound of the pipes wherever she has spent the night. There will be those who now anticipate an abdication, but I’m not so sure there will be one.

Instead, and as will have been quietly negotiated, I think the Queen will continue as monarch, fulfilling the promise that she made again to the Commonwealth not so long ago about a whole life spent in service to her subjects.

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Even if in the name only, she will be able to do this while her eldest child takes over the day-to-day and more strenuous parts of the job, warming the seat in advance of the time when he finally ascends the throne.

Right now, time is giving Charles the continued opportunity to make a substantial contribution to both the monarchy and the nation as a whole.

In the background I think there will also be scope for Prince William to develop his own input into what will become his own time as king.

His recent admission that he would happily volunteer as an active air ambulance pilot again, and that he sees this as unfinished business, is, perhaps, indicative of a new kind of less ceremonial, more contemporary monarchy which perhaps our times now demand.

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Certainly it would help with the monarchical marketing now arguably needed following the departures of Harry and Meghan to pastures transatlantic.

The recent screenings of the films Darkest Hour and The King’s Speech, plus the Netflix series The Crown (which is generally accepted as being as historically accurate as any portrayal of the Royal Family) may be subtly preparing us for a wholesale change of leadership in this country.

2020 may be written up as perhaps a lost year for millions; I won’t be at all surprised if 2021 is historic for altogether different reasons.

With recent commemorations of the end of World Wars One and Two, the decks are clear. It may not be long before there is a new reason to celebrate... and perhaps to commemorate.