Mobility, not mortality, limits Queen Elizabeth during Jubilee 70th year on throne: biographer

Queen Elizabeth II is “very alert, very on the ball [but] just not very mobile,” her latest biographer said in a telephone interview.

The longest-serving monarch in British history turns 96 on Thursday and marked 70 years as Queen in February. But a spate of recent last-minute appearance cancellations, the most recent being her absence from Easter Sunday services at Windsor Castle, have raised health concerns — and even more morbid speculation in some quarters.

Speculation about the queen’s health has grown since an October 2021 overnight hospital stay for an undisclosed ailment, followed by doctors’ advice to rest.

Robert Hardman, whose biography “Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II” was released on April 5, told The Washington Times in a telephone interview Tuesday he expects the queen to surpass the 70 years and 110 days the French King Louis XIV served, a milestone Elizabeth would achieve in May 2024.

Louis, Mr. Hardman noted, “had the advantage of starting off as a boy king,” where Elizabeth “was 25 when she got the top job. So she had a bit of catching up to do, but I have every confidence that Louis the 14th will be toppling from his perch a year and a half or two years hence.”

The news last week that Jubilee year appearances by the monarch will only be confirmed on the day of the event also sparked what Mr. Hardman called “alarm” about Queen Elizabeth’s health, but the veteran royal journalist said pragmatism more than anything else was behind the move.

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The queen’s aides are “wary issuing big sort of plans,” Mr. Hardman said of Buckingham Palace officials. “When if, for whatever reason, she doesn’t appear, then there are great dramas, and people go, ‘Oh, my gosh, you know, this is terrible. Must be something deeply wrong.’”

He added, “In fact, it’s more a case of, it’s simply how she feels on any given day. There’s no great medical concern, there’s an issue of mobility rather than doctor’s orders.”

The stress of traveling to an event and “sitting in a church or whatever it is” might be the deciding factor for the queen, who shuffled as she entered a palace reception room on February 16 and told the outgoing and incoming British defence secretaries, “Well, as you can see, I can’t move.”

Mr. Hardman said the Platinum Jubilee is of great value to the monarch and marks a unique moment in British history.

“We’ve never been here before,” he said. “When she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, she was emulating her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who had also celebrated” the 60-year milestone, he added.

“But no British monarch has ever reached 70 years before,” Mr. Hardman said. “I mean, you’ve got to be well over the age of 70 now to remember another face on the coins or the banknotes.”

Elizabeth has, he said, has become “part of the fabric of national and international life, you can sort of set your clock by. She’s utterly dependable, reliable, [uses] no ‘cheat sheet,’ she’s sort of the real deal.”

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