Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, has announced he will be taking a “short break” from his scheduled royal duties starting on February 1st.
This unexpected reprieve from public engagements has sparked concern amongst royal watchers over Edward’s health and the already beleaguered state of a slimmed-down British monarchy.
Slimmed-Down Monarchy: Prince Edward to take a break
Edward’s busy schedule has led him to travel in recent days to South Africa and St. Helena and to maintain an incessant rhythm of commitments at home.
This punishing schedule, endured by royals well into their seventies, reveals cracks appearing in King Charles’ vision of a streamlined modern monarchy.
The Duke of Edinburgh is in St Helena! 🇸🇭
🐢 HRH was welcomed to one of the most remote inhabited islands by Jonathan the Tortoise, who, at 191 years old, is the oldest living land animal in the world!
Click to read more about HRH's time on the island so far! 👇
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) January 25, 2024
With Charles himself recently waylaid by health issues and the Princess of Wales also afflicted, the workload has fallen heavily onto the shoulders of Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams contends that this proves a slimmed monarchy “could not function in the same way” as in the past.
Concern and Support From Royal Fans
Upon noticing Edward’s unexpected break in the Court Circular, royal fans flooded social media with well wishes – and barbs aimed at Charles’ plans.
One fan hopefully speculated the Duke merely “needs a bit of rest,” while others explicitly linked his break to exhaustion from “back-to-back engagements.”
The outpouring highlights public affection for the ever-diligent Dukes of Edinburgh. But it also demonstrates doubts that Charles’ vision is tenable given the royal family’s advanced age.
With Counsellors of State roles severely limited, the workload cannot be sustained without greater numbers sharing duties.
Edward’s break will be until February 8, according to the Royal Diary on the Royal Family website.
This well-deserved rest for his tireless service and the health leaves of the other members of The Firm stimulates a rethinking of how a modern monarchy can endure when presented with a smaller staff.