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Queen lightens load with shorter working week

February 27, 2006
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As she approaches her 80th birthday the Queen has eased her heavy schedule of engagements by switching to a three-day week. Her new agenda runs from Monday lunchtime to Thursday at midday, when she'll be driven to Windsor Castle for a long weekend.

According to reports in The Sun newspaper the move is designed to allow her to continue performing her duties as Head of State, while taking into account her age. In the past she has impressed royal watchers with her tremendous stamina, such as 2003's official visit to Nigeria, when she kept up a punishing schedule despite the heat.

The previous year was also an extremely busy one for both the monarch and her husband - with the Queen taking on 545 engagements and Prince Philip even more, with an extra 33 filling out his diary.

Senior royal sources were keen to stress that Queen Elizabeth is not effectively preparing to "retire" or to hand over the throne to Prince Charles. The new timetable, said an aide, was not a sign of fraility but simply "common sense" and "self preservation".

Her official spokesman referred to "flexibility" in the soon-to-be octagenarian's agenda, adding: "Her programme will continue to be organised in accordance with her age and commitments."

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Photo: ©
The change in schedule is intended to ease the burden on the monarch as her 80th birthday approaches. Last week, during a visit to a Berkshire hospital, the Queen appeared on fine form, and aides say there are no plans for her to "retire" Photo: © EMPICS

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