The Queen: This is what happens when she is 'incapacitated'

After the Queen’s recent COVID scare, you may be wondering what would happen if she could no longer perform her duties as monarch.

As the Queen has such an important role, it is no wonder that there is a whole process in place if she were ever in a situation where she couldn’t perform her royal duties. But how does it work exactly?

What happens if she’s hospitalised?

It is known that Buckingham Palace doesn’t give out the Queen’s detailed health updates. Indeed last October they were criticised for not informing the public that the Queen had been hospitalised overnight for an illness that is still unknown today.

If the Queen was ill, her appearance for upcoming events would be cancelled and she would be required to rest. Then, after a while, she would be able to attend events again but they would be limited.

If the Queen is hospitalised, she would most likely be taken to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital. This hospital has large suites, only 56 beds and each patient has 4 nurses. King Edward VII’s Hospital has been the chosen hospital for the royal family for many years now, with Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge all having received treatment there.

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What happens if the Queen is incapacitated?

If the Queen were to become incapacitated, a ‘regent’ would be selected to take over her royal duties. Usually, the ‘regent’ is the next in line to the throne. So here it would be Prince Charles.

With the Regency Act of 1937, the Queen would have to be judged ‘by reason of infirmity of mind or body incapable for the time being of performing the royal functions’. For that to happen, any three of the monarch's consort would need to make the declaration of incapacity, which would need to be supported by medical evidence. The Queen’s consort includes:

  • The Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab
  • House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle
  • The Lord Chief Justice
  • The Master of Rolls

Prince Philip was one of the Queen’s consort until his death in April 2021.

The Regency Act allows the sovereign to delegate the monarch’s duties to counsellors of state. This only applies to temporary absences or passing illnesses.

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