Operation Purge the Queen’s Diary: Aides are told to be ruthless as they scramble for a plan to ease the Monarch’s punishing pace following her overnight hospital stay
- Officials are understood to be drawing up a ‘core’ list of key events for Queen
- Attendance at UN climate change summit and Platinum Jubilee remain in diary
- Comes after Queen admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London this week
Senior aides at Buckingham Palace are scrambling to devise a strategy for managing the Queen’s workload after being accused of misleading the public over her health.
Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, last night faced calls to ‘be ruthless’ and purge the Monarch’s diary of functions not central to her role as head of state.
Officials are understood to be drawing up a ‘core’ list of key events that the Queen will prioritise in the next 12 months, including the Platinum Jubilee to celebrate her 70-year reign in June.
Senior aides at Buckingham Palace are scrambling to devise a strategy for managing the Queen’s workload after being accused of misleading the public over her health
Her attendance at the UN climate change summit in Glasgow on November 1 remains in the diary, but a final decision will not be made until later this week.
Meanwhile, the Palace’s communications team is under pressure to be more candid should the 95-year-old Monarch require further visits to hospital.
The Queen’s courtiers faced extensive criticism last week for failing to inform the public that she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Wednesday and stayed there overnight for tests.
The Queen at a reception for the Global Investment Summit in Windsor Castle, October 19, 2021
The media was told that she was resting at Windsor Castle and aides revealed the hospital stay only on Thursday night after news leaked out.
The controversy has shone a spotlight on the growing challenge faced by the Palace in balancing the Queen’s desire to be an active head of state with needing to protect her health.
Royal sources say the easing of Covid restrictions has resulted in a logjam of public events, adding pressure on the Queen’s diary.
According to Buckingham Palace’s Court Circular, she has held 13 separate audiences or meetings, attended seven major events and travelled almost 900 miles since leaving Balmoral on October 1.
In addition, every day she still reads Government papers, delivered to her in red boxes, and has a long list of private meetings.
‘They have to find some kind of balance,’ said Sally Bedell Smith, who has written a bestselling biography of the Queen.
It is understood the trip to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon was expected to be for a short stay for some ‘preliminary investigations’
The Queen (right with Boris Johnson) at a reception for the Global Investment Summit in Windsor Castle, October 19, 2021
‘I hope they have learnt from the pretty punishing pace she kept over the course of a month that that is maybe just too much.’
While Prince Philip retired from public life, aged 96, in 2017, the Queen has been determined to carry on working and has been on sparkling form at engagements since his death in April.
She has, however, accepted some changes in recent years.
She stepped back from long-haul travel in 2013, and other senior royals have helped to hand out knighthoods and other honours at investiture ceremonies.
But royal commentators say the Queen’s taxing schedule of commitments will have to be reduced further to reflect her advancing years.
The Queen arriving to attend the ceremonial opening of the sixth Senedd, in Cardiff, Wales on October 14, 2021
‘She doesn’t want to end up constantly in hospital because she is exhausted,’ said royal biographer Ingrid Seward.
‘She will have to do all the big events. It’s the smaller events that she can hand over.’
Ms Seward urged Prince Charles to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the Queen is not overworked, adding: ‘They can divide the duties between other members of the family but Charles has to take a stand and say to his mother, “Enough is enough.”’
Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to the Queen, challenged her senior courtiers to insist that the monarch becomes more selective.
‘The private secretaries have got to be proactive and ruthless and say, “Ma’am, you can do this, but you can’t do that. You can’t do everything”,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Palace press office is being urged to be more transparent should the Queen require further hospital treatment.
Ms Bedell Smith said: ‘When something happens like that, to preserve their credibility, they should issue bulletins in a timely way.’
A packed schedule at 95
For a woman of 95, the Monarch faces a packed diary of engagements over the next year, including:
November 1: COP26 UN climate change conference, Glasgow, alongside Prince Charles and Prince William. Visit is said to be hanging in the balance.
November 14: Remembrance Sunday. She no longer lays a wreath at the Cenotaph but watches from a balcony.
December 20 to mid-February, 2022: Christmas and new year break at Sandringham. Meets public on visit to church on Christmas morning, and entertains family and visitors during her stay in Norfolk.
April 14: Maundy Thursday church service. Queen distributes special Maundy money to pensioners.
May: State Opening of Parliament. Also expected to accept a gift from Parliamentarians, possibly a commemorative lamp-post, to mark 70-year reign.
June 2: Trooping The Colour to mark her birthday. She has missed it only once, in 1955, when it was cancelled because of a rail strike. This year it was scaled back and held at Windsor.
June 2-5: Platinum Jubilee weekend, including a Buckingham Palace concert, service at St Paul’s Cathedral, pageant and street parties.
June: Annual meeting of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest British order of chivalry. Hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle.
June: Royal Ascot, said to be her favourite event of the year. She missed 2020’s meeting because of Covid, her first absence in 68 years, but went this year.
August: Garden parties. Traditionally she hosts three at Buckingham Palace and one at Holyroodhouse
in Edinburgh. 2021’s parties were cancelled.
September 3: Braemar Gathering. Highland
Games coincides with her summer break at nearby Balmoral.
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