The Queen has canceled some recent royal engagements based on medical advice.
Royal experts say some aides may be overworking the 95-year-old monarch.
They added that while the Queen can say no to appointments, “she doesn’t like to disappoint people.”
October has been a busy month for Queen Elizabeth II.
The 95-year-old monarch planted trees with Prince Charles at Balmoral, marked the opening of Scottish parliament, greeted Canadian service members at Windsor Castle, and attended Buckingham Palace’s first major event since the pandemic began, Sky News reports.
And that was just within the first week.
Speaking to Insider’s Mikhaila Friel, the Queen’s former piper Scott Methven said he’s surprised at “how hard everybody expects the Queen to work given her age.”
Some royal experts believe that the monarch may be overworked, and that her packed schedule could be part of the reason why she pulled out of some of her royal engagements this month. The Queen canceled a visit to Northern Ireland on October 18 following medical advice and spent a night in the hospital for preliminary medical checks before returning to Windsor Castle. On Tuesday, the palace said she wouldn’t be attending a climate change conference in Scotland in keeping with advice to rest.
The Queen has had an active schedule throughout her 69-year reign, and she hasn’t slowed down much in recent years.
The year before she turned 90, the Queen carried out 341 engagements – more than Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry combined, according to a 2016 report from the Telegraph. And in April 2021, four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, she was back to work hosting a retirement ceremony at Windsor Castle for one of her senior aides.
In late April, a source said to be close to the royal family told The Sun that the Prince of Wales would be playing “a more significant and active role” to support the Queen after Philip’s death. And following the Queen’s recent hospitalization, the Telegraph reported that at least one senior royal would accompany the monarch on all future public engagements.
The publication added that Prince Edward is said to be increasingly accompanying her on engagements while Prince Charles and Princess Anne are taking on investitures, presenting awards of honor to individuals. Prince William is said to be doing more “practical” work behind palace doors, the Telegraph reports, including running several royal estates alongside his father.
The Queen is ‘at the mercy of her staff’ at Buckingham Palace
Some royal experts believe that the Queen’s staff add more engagements to her workload.
“I’m sure the royal household are very conscious of it, but sometimes people try to slip an extra thing here and an extra little bit there and she’ll always say yes,” Hugo Vickers, royal historian and author of “The Crown Dissected,” told Insider. “She very rarely says no.”
Vickers, who said he helped plan the last three jubilee celebrations, told the Times of London on October 21 that he thinks royal aides are not always as “thoughtful” as they should be when taking care not to “overstretch” her.
He said the Queen does better when she’s staying at Sandringham and Balmoral, as opposed to Buckingham Palace in London, because “she’s somewhat at the mercy of her staff” adding to her schedule.
He added that “she’s very reluctant to say no because she doesn’t like to disappoint people.”
Just how much control royal aides have over the Queen’s schedule is unclear, but it’s an issue Prince Harry touched on during his and Meghan Markle’s Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2021.
He recalled an instance when the couple was scheduled to meet with the Queen after they stepped back from royal duties. Harry told Winfrey that the Queen’s private secretary contacted them at the last minute to cancel, saying his grandmother was now “busy all week.”
When Winfrey asked why he didn’t ask to reschedule, Harry replied: “When you’re head of the firm, there are people around you that give you advice. And what has also made me really sad is some of that advice has been really bad.”
Still, experts say the Queen has the final say
Despite her staff’s involvement in her schedule, the Queen is said to make her own decisions when it comes to her engagements.
A former page – pages are known as some of the Queen’s “closest royal servants,” according to The Lady Magazine – previously told the Daily Mail that while the Queen’s desk seems “cluttered” to the untrained eye, the monarch will know if staffers move anything without her permission.
In an email to Insider, royal author Robert Jobson said that as head of state and someone with a lifetime of public service experience, the Queen ultimately has the final say when it comes to accepting engagements.
“Courtiers and medical staff can advise, only Her Majesty decides what to do,” Jobson said. “She has done all her life and will continue to do so while she is able.”
Vickers agreed, adding that the Queen is still “perfectly able” to say if she doesn’t want to go ahead with an engagement. “I daresay occasionally she does but we wouldn’t know about that,” he said.
Buckingham Palace declined Insider’s request for comment.
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