King Charles: Charles may still hand crown straight to Prince William – expert
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Prince Charles, 71, is first in line to the throne and is the oldest heir apparent in British history. While the Prince of Wales is due to take over from his mother Queen Elizabeth II, 94, when she can no longer serve, his age has prompted speculation he could choose to hand the crown to straight to Prince William instead.
A body of constitutional experts has claimed that while the notion of abdication is “unthinkable” for the Queen it could one be an attractive option for Charles.
The Royal Family’s tentative relationship with abdication is said to be the key reason the Queen would never step down.
The Queen’s uncle Edward VIII triggered a constitutional crisis in 1936 when he abdicated from his role as king in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
The painful event is considered to be a blot on the Windsor Family’s history and is one the Queen remains keenly aware of to this day.
To this end, the Queen is expected to keep her role of sovereign until death when it will pass to Charles.
Constitutional experts at University College London’s Constitution Unit have explained why the Queen is unlikely to abdicate and the process by which Charles might.
In answer to the question “Might Prince Charles abdicate in favour of William?”
The UCL constitution unit website states: “That would be a matter for Prince Charles, and for Parliament.”
The explanation continues: “For the Queen, abdication is said to be unthinkable, for two reasons.
“The first is the bad example of Edward VIII: his abdication brought the Queen’s father onto the throne, unexpectedly and most reluctantly.
“The second is her declaration on her twenty-first birthday that she would serve for her whole life whether it be long or short.
“She is also said to regard her oath at her coronation as imposing a sacred duty to reign as long as she shall live.”
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In reference to Prince Charles the website states: “Having waited over 60 years as heir apparent, it would be perfectly natural for Prince Charles to want to assume the throne and perform the royal duties for which he has spent so long preparing in waiting.”
According to the experts, Charles would have to go through Parliament in order to make the change.
The website continues: “But it would be equally natural if, after reigning for a few years as an increasingly elderly monarch, he chose to invite Parliament to hand on the throne to Prince William.”
Another key question surrounding Charles’s ascension to the throne is the title by which his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall might go by.
Clarence House made it clear Charles’s second wife Camilla would be known as Princess Consort and not Queen Consort in order to honour his late wife Princess Diana’s memory.
However, the decision of what to title to bestow upon Camilla will ultimately fall to Charles once he is king.
The constitution unit explained: “Under common law the spouse of a King automatically becomes Queen.
“But there are two possible reasons why Camilla might not assume the title.
“The first is the argument voiced by the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail Online, that Camilla cannot become Queen because her 2005 civil marriage to Prince Charles was not valid.
“The argument runs as follows: because the Marriage Acts from 1753 have explicitly excepted royal marriages from their provisions, the only valid marriage which a member of the royal family could contract in England was a religious marriage in the Church of England.
“The Lord Chancellor in 2005 defended the validity of the Prince’s civil marriage, as did the Registrar General. But if Camilla became Queen, it might provoke further legal challenges.
“The second possible reason is public opinion. In deference to public opinion, Camilla has not assumed the title Princess of Wales.
“Prince Charles will no doubt have regard to public opinion at the time of his accession, in deciding whether Camilla should become Queen; and he may also want to seek the advice of the government of the day.
“The fallback position is that Camilla would become Princess Consort as announced at the time of their marriage.”
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