Buckingham Palace has been forced to deny rumours the Queen is to stand down in her Christmas Day broadcast, after a bookmaker said it was suspending bet following a flurry of “unusual” activity.
Coral said it had been offering odds of 10-1 that the monarch would stand down during the address, which goes out at 3pm in every Commonwealth nation.
A spokesperson told i100 she was aware of six bets made over a short space of time, one of which was for £200, and said that it felt there was “no smoke without fire”.
“Throughout the year there has been major speculation about the Queen’s future but today’s gamble has really caught us by surprise,” said Coral’s Nicola McGeady.
“As far as we are concerned there’s no smoke without fire when bets like this come through all in succession, so we have decided to be safe rather than sorry and pull the plug on the market,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Queen said that it was the Palace’s policy “not to comment on any bookmakers’ work”.
But a royal source told The Independent that with the pre-recorded speech going out at the same time over a number of time zones, it would mean that Tuvalu would hear any news before London.
Queen's Birthday Honours 2014
Queen's Birthday Honours 2014
1/14 Angelina Jolie
Recognised in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas Birthday Honours list for exceptional service to Britain overseas as an anti-sexual violence campaigner
2/14 Stephen Sutton
Teenage Cancer Trust charity fundraiser who raised £4 million before losing his battle to bowel cancer last month is awarded an MBE
3/14 Daniel Day Lewis
Daniel Day Lewis will receive a knighthood for services to acting after becoming the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars
4/14 Hilary Mantel
Author Mantel is to become a dame after winning the Booker in 2009 for 'Wolf Hall'
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
5/14 Zandra Rhodes
Fashion designer Rhodes is to be made a dame
6/14 Lizzy Arnold
Arnold celebrates winning gold in the women's skeleton competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and is awarded an MBE
7/14 Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie Smith is made a Companion of Honour for services to acting
8/14 Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans
Visually-impaired skier Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans are awarded MBEs after winning Britain's first ever gold metal in the Winter Paralympics
9/14 Warren Gatland
Wales rugby head coach Gatland is awarded an OBE for sporting services
10/14 John Barrowman
The man with the pearliest whites in showbiz is awarded an MBE
11/14 Charlotte Edwards
England cricketer Edwards, here with the Women’s Ashes trophy, is awarded a CBE
12/14 Jenny Gunn
Edwards' deputy captain Gunn is awarded an MBE
13/14 Dario Franchitti
Scottish racing driver Franchetti is awarded an MBE
14/14 Cerys Matthews
Singer songwriter Cerys Matthews is awarded an MBE
Instead, the annual Christmas broadcast tends to be used as a personal message from the Queen to the Commonwealth nations, touching on the events of the year. The source said that he couldn't remember there “ever being an announcement made during the Queen’s Christmas message, ever”.
And while there have been a number of royal abdications involving other European monarchies in recent years, the source pointed to the Queen’s oath on her coronation that “whether long or short, her entire life would be in service of the nation”.