The past 24 hours has given us one of the most fascinating insights into the mind of our great Queen in many years.
At 95 years of age, she doesn’t consider herself to be old, despite the furore over her decision to start using a walking stick at some public events.
With a glint in her eye no doubt, she ordered her assistant private secretary to reject The Oldie of the Year award because, in her words, ‘you are only as old as you feel’.
The message from Her Majesty was clear: Take that, doubters, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
But, sadly, the Queen’s body isn’t always able to keep up with her sharp-as-ever mind, irresistible spirit, uncompromising worth-ethic and everlasting sense of duty.
The past 24 hours has given us one of the most fascinating insights into the mind of our great Queen in many years. Pictured: Her Majesty with a walking stick on Thursday
This morning Buckingham Palace announced she had ‘reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days’ at Windsor Castle, cancelling at the last minute a series of engagements in Northern Ireland today and tomorrow.
A royal source stressed there was ‘no cause for caution’ about the Queen’s health and, anyone who knows her, would admit the medics would not have easily won the battle to get her to pull out of the trip.
The Queen’s schedule has been relentless for seven decades and, even at her advancing age, she simply doesn’t want to stop working.
In the past couple of weeks, she travelled to Scotland for the opening of parliament, had engagements at the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff and continued a busy schedule in London, including hosting a major global investment summit at Windsor Castle yesterday evening.
And, in a sign of her dedication to keep healthy, the Queen has even agreed to stop her daily tipple, saving alcohol for special occasions.
That’s why today I beg of Her Majesty: Please, Ma’am, for the sake of all of us, it’s time to slow down.
At 95 years of age, she doesn’t consider herself to be old, despite the furore over her decision to start using a walking stick at some public events. Pictured: Her majesty with Bill Gates at Windsor Castle last night
We want you to reign as a centenarian – and I truly believe you can.
But the key to that is to see you less and allow you more time to enjoy a form of semi-retirement at 95.
The idea you must keep driving forward with such a busy schedule is no longer necessary.
Listen to your doctors – because by God we need you.
There is much discussion of a future transition behind-the-scenes of the Royal Family.
But I genuinely believe that talk should be irrelevant for a long to come.
Given her near faultless health, unwavering desire to serve and excellent genes, what is to stop the Queen remaining on the throne for years to come?
But like a great sporting star reaching the end the of their career, it’s critical the Queen is managed by her medics.
While it is the Queen who wants to continue at this pace, the responsibility must lie with senior courtiers, the government and two future kings to ensure this is allowed to happen.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Queen carried out 136 engagements in person or via videolink over 130 days last year. Only Princess Anne (148 over 145 days) and Prince Charles (146 over 141 days) topped her.
Given the Queen is the centrepiece of the government’s plan to schmoose world leaders at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, which opens at the end of the month, the entire focus should be ensuring she is on great form for that event. Pictured: Dan Wootton
And, to be frank, that is not sensibly managing her time.
Many of the day-to-day engagements must start to be taken on by Prince Charles and Prince William, the key figures in a future slimmed down monarchy.
The Queen’s time and energy could and should be reserved for the national and international events that really matter – and the passion projects, like horseracing, that keep her heart happy and mind engaged.
Given the Queen is the centrepiece of the government’s plan to schmoose world leaders at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, which opens at the end of the month, the entire focus should be ensuring she is on great form for that event.
To use a footballing analogy, it’s the equivalent of your ageing star player being rested in a series of friendlies before the World Cup.
For what it’s worth, I speak to royal sources with an insight into the Queen’s life on a weekly basis and they all insist she remains on fighting form.
One told me: ‘There was a genuine concern after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death that she could be deeply impacted and that it would take a toll on her physically, but that hasn’t been the case.
‘If anything, it seems to have made her even more determined to continue her great work and connect with her public.’
And, they insist, Prince Charles and William are prepared to step up – and are already doing so… when they’re allowed!
The source explained: ‘The Prince of Wales in particular is taking on as much as he possibly can and you’ve seen over the past five years how the Duke of Cambridge acknowledges his role has changed. Their overwhelming priority is now to support the Queen.’
However, the Queen, it seems, is also making up for lost time, after being forced to spend many months effectively shielded from the people at the height of the pandemic.
Another royal source added: ‘Being out and about with the public is the lifeblood for the Queen so she has very much enjoyed being able to do that again after the frustration at being somewhat contained at Windsor Castle.’
It’s funny that the ever-modest monarch has no idea that it was via TV address that she made arguably her most powerful ever address to the British public as the nation grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffering badly with the virus.
Speaking from Windsor Castle, she told us: ‘We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’
And, given she had lived through the Blitz during World War Two, we believed her; there was reason to hope.
I struggle to countenance a world where the Queen isn’t the person to lead the nation and the world through such a crisis.
And, for that reason, it’s essential that we accept we will see her a little less of her in the next few years.
Like a regal fine wine, she gets better with age.
But leading politicians, the public, her family and her courtiers now have a collective responsibility to protect the Queen.