Friday, November 03, 2006

Can I retire, please?

My grandmother will be 81 later this month. She's a hardy soul but there's no way she would be up to the frantic pace needed to be a world leader! But poor Queen Elizabeth II just keeps working. When do you think she will be allowed to retire? Most people these days retire by 60, judges are forced to retire at 70, but Queen Elizabeth II, at 80 keeps on working.

Normally in robust health even at the age of 80, last week she had to scap a day at the races because of a strained muscle in her back. When Rolf Harris went to accept his CBE yesterday at Windsor Palace he received his gong for services to art and entertainment instead from Princess Anne. Also, the Queen had to pull out of opening the new Emirates stadium of English Premiership football club Arsenel in north London on 26 October because of her back injury. This time her 85 year-old husband Philip deputised - can you think of any 85 year old men who are still working?

It is highly unusual for the stoical monarch to slow down on her schedule or withdraw from events. The Queen carries out hundreds of engagements a year alongside her official duties. In 2005 she carried out 378 engagements compared with 509 in 1996. Early in October 2006 she was in Belfast to review British soldiers stationed in Northern Ireland, despite suffering from a bloodshot eye.

Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952 and it was not until July 1982 that she was first admitted to hospital, to have a wisdom tooth removed. She was forced to cancel several engagements in 1993 because of flu while in 1994 she broke her wrist when her horse tripped during a ride on her Sandringham county estate in eastern England. Last year she cancelled three engagements because of a cold and sore throat, while in 2003 she had keyhole surgery after suffering a torn cartilage walking on rough ground. That led to a reduced schedule as she convalesced from the succesul 45-minute operation. Further surgery on her left knee later the same year was combined with a procedure to remove minor growths from her face.

There's no doubt she is a sturdy trooper. But when will she be given a retirement watch from The Firm and be allowed to sleep in, watch Oprah or potter around in the garden. To make her keep working after 80 seems cruel and unsual punishment.