Her Majesty to hand duties over to Prince Charles in an historic job share which experts say marks a gentle succession.
It is being dubbed the “gentle succession” – as the Queen gradually begins to relinquish some of her traditional duties as monarch.
As she approaches her 88th birthday in April after almost 62 years on the throne, she has agreed to hand over part of her workload in a historic “job-share” arrangement with Prince Charles.
In a royal first, he will be taking on more head of state-style responsibilities as
the Palace starts to make tentative plans for his eventual succession.
Courtiers yesterday described the softly-softly move as “wise” – and “just plain common sense”.
The first sign of the partial power transfer will be the merging this week of the Queen and Charles’s press offices.
In future any announcements concerning the monarch and her 65-year-old eldest son will now come from the same source. Palace sources insist the switch will be entirely seamless.
Princes William and Harry will also play their part in the new set-up, with both assuming far more responsibility since they relinquished their military roles.
One aide said: “This is about passing the baton to the next generation.
“The Prince of Wales’s diary is chock-full. Even he realises with the best will in the world he can’t go on like that.
“This is not going to be a sudden shift. It is a gradual process which will be borne out over the next few years.
“It’s a gentle succession.
“It’s important to note that the Queen is still working very hard. Every day you see her with the red box of Government papers and giving audiences.
“Charles will be doing less of his campaigning and the things he likes to do and more of the head of state role.
“While the Queen is still in excellent health, she is inevitably becoming a little more frail because of her age. Charles and Camilla will be doing much more of the public work on her behalf.”
Her Majesty is already the oldest ever British monarch and will soon overtake Queen Victoria’s longest-serving record of 63 years.
But it was stressed yesterday that the changes do not mean she is planning to take a back seat.