It is, of course, entirely reasonable that our 87-year-old head of state should conserve her dwindling energies by handing some of the more long-haul responsibilities of monarchy to her son and heir. What is interesting, however, is her choice of timing.
Is it a coincidence that the new regime will begin with Prince Charles taking the Queen’s place at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting due to take place in Sri Lanka in November? Or could it be that the woeful human rights record of the Colombo government – which all too often bullies, imprisons and assaults its critics – weighed on Her Majesty’s mind?
It certainly did on those of the Canadian delegation, which is threatening to boycott the event as a result. We can only hope that the Queen was, in a suitably subtle way, making a similar point.