There has been a significant increase in the number of people who think the Queen should retire rather than remain monarch for life, a new poll shows.
According to analysis by YouGov for Times Radio, one in three people now think she should retire.
The Queen made a surprise appearance at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on Thursday, despite missing the state opening of parliament earlier this week that saw Prince Charles step in her place for the first time.
She has missed a series of public events amid mobility issues in recent weeks and will also skip the royal garden party season this summer.
Polling by YouGov into whether the Queen should retire started two years ago, with more than half of people consistently thinking she should remain Queen for the rest of her life.
EXCLUSIVE: New @YouGov poll for @TimesRadio reveals sharp rise in number who think the Queen should retire.
Comes after Prince Charles stood in at state opening of parliament
34% say Queen should retire
49% say she should remain Queen for life
More on @TimesRadio now pic.twitter.com/kFPaZyg4tN
— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) May 13, 2022
Around only a quarter thought she should retire and "step down from the throne".
But the latest survey shows a marked shift, with a third (34%) saying the Queen should retire, and less than half (49%) saying she should remain as Queen.
It has long been a commonly held belief that the Queen would never step down from the throne.
She witnessed first hand the turmoil caused by the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII, in 1936, which ultimately led to her becoming Queen.
On the Queen's 21st birthday she promised: "I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong".
For many Royal commentators, this was a promise taken seriously, suggesting the Queen would avoid stepping down at all costs.
However, retirement is not the same as abdication.
In the event that the Queen cannot act as monarch due to illness or other situations, Prince Charles would become Prince Regent rather than immediately becoming King.
For that to happen, medical evidence would be required and several people would have to declare Her Majesty incapacitated including the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Master of the Rolls.
On Monday, a royal expert said Prince of Wales was “teetering on the edge of becoming a de facto prince regent”, with Buckingham Palace keen to show the monarchy is “safe in the hands of father and son” ahead of the Queen's Speech.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the opening of Parliament by both Charles and the Duke of Cambridge was a “significant moment for two future kings”.
The Queen delegated certain powers as head of state to Charles and William as Counsellors of State to open Parliament on her behalf on Tuesday in an unprecedented move.
Constitutional expert Dr Bob Morris, of UCL’s Constitution Unit, said it was “more likely than not” that the arrangements would continue for future state openings, meaning the Queen, who is now 96 and facing “episodic mobility problems”, may not ever open Parliament again.