Nearing record, Queen Elizabeth shows no sign of stepping aside

Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:04am EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - After 63 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth next month becomes Britain's longest-ruling monarch but there is little prospect of her stepping aside, as other aging European crowned heads have done, in favor of her son, Charles.

Those close to Elizabeth - who on Sept. 9 takes the long-service record from her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria - say the 89-year-old has no intention of succumbing to the European fashion for abdication.

That means Prince Charles, 66, already a record-holder himself as Britain's longest-serving heir apparent, will have to wait longer still until he becomes king.

"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family," Elizabeth said in a 21st birthday broadcast to the nation in 1947.

The milestone of overtaking Victoria has already prompted speculation as to whether Elizabeth might step aside.

When asked if abdication were a possibility, a senior palace source told Reuters: "Life means life."

The religious overtones to a British coronation are deeply symbolic for Elizabeth, who as queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

"The queen won't abdicate, she must not abdicate, there's absolutely no reason for her to abdicate and indeed constitutionally and religiously she cannot abdicate: she is an anointed queen," royal historian Hugo Vickers told Reuters.   Continued...

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip leave after attending a service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day in St Martin's in the Fields church, in London, Britain August 15, 2015. REUTERS/Jack Taylor/Pool