It’s a first for Elizabeth II: the 96-year-old Queen, in declining health, will receive the new British Prime Minister next week at her Scottish residence of Balmoral, where she is currently located, instead of Buckingham Palace in London.
Given her growing difficulties in getting around, the press wondered about a return of the monarch to the unequaled longevity in the capital for the announcement, Monday, of Boris Johnson’s replacement at 10 Downing Street.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss is seen as the big favorite to win the ruling Conservative Party’s internal election against former finance minister Rishi Sunak.
The palace confirmed on Wednesday that the highly codified choreography surrounding the change of prime minister would be changed. On Tuesday, Boris Johnson will travel first to Balmoral, where the Queen usually spends the end of summer, to formally tender his resignation.
He will be followed by his replacement, said a spokesperson.
This decision was presented as a way to facilitate the organization of the transfer of power for the Prime Minister’s agenda, avoiding last-minute changes.
In a context of a serious cost of living crisis causing unprecedented strikes since the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power, but also of the war in Ukraine, this will be the first formal contact between the Queen, Head of State, and its 15th Prime Minister.
She holds a weekly audience with the head of ‘Her Majesty’s Government’, which has been held mostly by telephone since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Since that date, she has retired essentially to Windsor Castle , on the western outskirts of London, where her husband Philip died in April 2021 shortly before his 100th birthday.
Since a night in the hospital almost a year ago for unspecified examinations, the queen shows up more and more rarely due to problems moving around. She delegates an increasing part of her functions to her son Charles, who notably delivered the speech from the throne in Parliament in May for the first time, one of her essential ceremonial functions.
In early June, the British had celebrated for four days the 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II, who is the oldest monarch in the world in office. She remained almost absent from this platinum jubilee, showing only twice briefly on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in front of tens of thousands of people gathered for the very popular monarch.
A few weeks later, on the other hand, she showed up several times for public appearances in Scotland, appearing smiling and with a cane during an armed forces parade in Edinburgh at the end of June.
She was received the next day by Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who had announced shortly before her intention to organize a new independent referendum. The sovereign was then filmed without a cane, which has become very rare.
The Queen’s silhouette was last seen in Aberdeen on July 21.
As she spends her summer stay at her Balmoral estate, her son, Prince Charles would pay her daily visits. A qualified frequency”unusual” according to Ingrid Seward, reporter for Majesty Magazine. According to this specialist, the royal family generally cannot spend time together as an average family does.
“It’s very unusual for Prince Charles to make these kinds of impromptu visits to see his mother,” believes Ingrid Seward. “But Charles is a very thoughtful person – and who else can she rely on now that Prince Philip is gone? Everyone thinks they normally see each other all the time, but that’s not the case. They often blame geography because everyone is scattered all over the country.”
The recurrence of these visits recalls the latest information circulating on Prince Philip when his state of health worsened.