Queen's reign is 'effectively over' because of coronavirus, says royal biographer

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Queen Elizabeth II has had to stay in isolation for several weeks. (Getty Images)

The Queen’s reign is “effectively over” according to the man who wrote Princess Diana’s explosive biography.

Andrew Morton has said the coronavirus pandemic has “practically put” her son, Prince Charles, “on the throne” as she is unable to carry out engagements and could be in isolation for some time.

At 94, the Queen is firmly in the government’s at-risk age bracket and has been in isolation with limited staff and her husband Prince Philip, since the middle of March.

It’s not clear when she might be able to leave the confines of Windsor Castle, and she has been unable to carry out the usual level of engagements during the pandemic.

It’s enough for her reign to be done according to Morton, author of Diana, Her True Story, the book which exposed the failed marriage of Charles and the Princess of Wales in 1992.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s terribly sad but I can’t see how the Queen can resume her job. The COVID-19 virus isn’t going away soon and will be with us for months if not years.

“It would be far too risky for the Queen to start meeting people on a regular basis. She has always loved getting out and meeting people but she can’t take the risk.

“The brutal truth is that her reign is effectively over. COVID-19 has done more damage to the monarchy than Oliver Cromwell. 

“Corona has practically put Charles on the throne.”

The Queen riding in Home Park, Windsor, during the lockdown. (Getty Images)

Read more: How the Queen became a symbol of stability in the chaos of coronavirus

His comments came the day after a new photo was released of the Queen and Philip in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle as the couple celebrated his 99th birthday.

The Queen has long held the view she needs to be seen to be believed, said to be the reason behind her bright wardrobe at public engagements.

But being behind closed doors makes that all the more difficult.

Andrew Morton said the Queen's reign was over because of coronavirus. (PA Images)

In response, the Queen has had photographs taken and released of her riding her pony at Home Park, in Windsor; allowed audio of a call with a nurse to be used; and fronted two televised addresses, a rarity in her reign.

She also released details of a video call for the first time as she spoke to unpaid carers to mark carers week and gave an approved interview to Horse and Hound magazine.

Her son Charles, who at 71 is also considered vulnerable, has been able to use his personal experience of COVID-19 as he continues to carry out engagements virtually.

There won't be the usual large Trooping the Colour this year. (Getty Images)

Read more: How royals around the world are protecting themselves against coronavirus

He is the longest-serving heir apparent, with his mother having acceded to the throne when he was just three years old.

It is the Queen’s coronation speech which is often cited as evidence she will not give up the throne until her death.

In June 1953 she said: “I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”

It has been several years since it emerged that the courtiers had looked again at the Regency Act, which could place Charles as “prince regent” in the event the Queen became unwell.

In 2014, a source told Saga Magazine: "Yes, we have dusted off the Regency Act and taken a look at it."

Regencies are rare, and are covered now by the Regency Act 1937, which says they should only be put in place if the monarch is declared unable to carry out their duties by three or more people including their spouse, the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls.

The regency should only last as long as the monarch is unwell or unable to carry out duties. In the event the regent is in place because the new sovereign is under 18, they leave the post when the sovereign is of age.