IT may be high treason to “imagine or compass” the death of a Queen, but as Elizabeth II clocks up a record 70 years on the throne, the House of Windsor is talking of little else.
The 95-year-old monarch last week gave her royal assent, saying: “None of us can slow the passage of time.”
Her Majesty might yet outlive her mum, who made 101, but as she reduces her workload, plans are already in train for King Charles III and, in time, King William V.
Successions are perilous times for a monarchy. The Queen is a revered global icon. Her passing will leave an unimaginable vacuum.
Few can remember any other face on our currency. “God save the Queen” may never be heard again in our lifetimes. But there are risks to this continuity, fuelled by antagonism between princes William and Harry, a relentless media and TV docu-soaps masquerading as historic drama.
Tonight’s BBC two-parter The Princes And The Press examines the relationship between the brothers, their wives Kate and Meghan and the media — in which the BBC itself is a mischievous player.
The documentary, hosted by avowed republican Amol Rajan, has been kept from Palace eyes despite requests for a courtesy preview. It will accuse the brothers of briefing against each other, probe allegedly racist questions when Harry and Meghan were expecting their first-born, Archie, and rake over rows between the sisters-in-law.
Insiders say Harry will be portrayed as the “knight in shining armour”, William as a leaker, while newspapers are blamed for scuppering Harry’s romance with first love Chelsy Davy.
Far from comforting the blameless Queen in her twilight years, the show will revive speculation about the monarchy — as may be intended by Mr Rajan, who thinks the institution “absurd”.
Palace courtiers are preparing plans for nothing less than the survival of the Royal Family. Prince Charles is often cast as a weak link in the process, thanks not least to the BBC’s disastrous interview with Princess Diana by “deeply wicked serial liar” Martin Bashir.
Since then, the Prince of Wales has established himself as a jovial and well-meaning environmental campaigner.
His wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has carved a genuine place in public affections. But they are already the past.
The monarchy’s future lies in the next generation, the modernising Prince William, glamorous Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children George, Charlotte and Louis.
William, once seen as dull and tongue-tied, has become a self-confident performer on the world stage.
Kate is blossoming as a royal supermodel and devoted mum.
The pair have deliberately cast aside royal protocol, by showing public affection and raising their children as part of a loving family.
They have also been instrumental in shunting Prince Andrew out of the royal enclosure.
In the process, their popularity has soared in inverse proportion to the money-hungry Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Recent polls place Wills and Kate second in public esteem only to the Queen herself, rated positively by almost eight out of ten voters.
Courtiers initially feared Harry the war hero and his Hollywood soap-star bride might eclipse the heir to the throne.
The fugitive royals swiftly built a Netflix fortune and blabbed their “truth” on Oprah Winfrey’s coast-to-coast confessional.
Yet even in celebrity-obsessed America, this truth is wearing thin as UK courts expose Meghan’s High Court “memory lapses” in her war on the tabloids. Her toe-curling performance last week on The Ellen Degeneres Show in the US was universally panned.
In Britain, where Harry’s stardust has turned to ashes, William is flourishing amid TV images of him rolling up his sleeve for a Covid jab and supporting the NHS.
Kate has taken on a greater solo role, with her passion for early years learning, the importance of wildlife and the great outdoors, and supporting RAF teams in the recent Afghan refugee airlift.
The couple’s roles evoked the wartime message of King George VI and the Queen Mother in a visit to London’s bombed-out East End: “We are here to help you.”
But the example they really intend to follow is this Queen’s lifelong devotion to duty — and her dignified but enduring motto: “Never complain, never explain.”
Our goose is cooked, Boris
BORIS JOHNSON is furious over his Government’s failure to “do something” about illegal immigration. We are promised a crackdown. Well, forget it.
Critics have been warning for 20 years about the madness of mass immigration. Even the Labour bigwigs who opened the doors admit it was an act of “treachery”.
In Europe, things are worse. Murderous gangs have taken control of entire towns in once-peaceful Sweden.
Meanwhile, the UK population has exploded by eight million since 2000. We are bound and gagged by human-rights laws and newly invented “identity politics”. Our goose is cooked, Boris.
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