People have been speculating on the possible abdication of the Queen for decades now. It doesn't bother them that the British monarchy has only seen one voluntary abdication in its entire history, that the Queen has regularly pledged herself to a lifetime of service, or that no-one in the royal family has ever made the slightest hint that she's ready to go.
So why has one bookmaking firm closed the book on bets that she will abdicate by the end of the year?
Not likelyIn many ways abdication is still highly unlikely. The only British monarch to give up the throne voluntarily was in 1936 when Edward VIII sparked a crisis by standing down in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. One of the enduring themes of this Queen's rule is that at every available opportunity she has made it perfectly clear that she considers this a job for life.
As her age has advanced, the 87-year-old has increasingly been handing over many of her duties. Yesterday it was announced that Prince Charles will be taking on more of the roles normally reserved for the head-of-state, and his press office has been merged with his mother's. The press have been calling it a job-share. Meanwhile, both Princes have given up their military duties, so are around for more royal responsibilities.
Bookies convincedYesterday, however, bookmaker Coral slashed the odds of the Queen standing down before the end of the year from 3-1 to 1-2, before suspending the market. The Daily Mail reported that the company had taken a £200 bet in its Windsor office, and that it paid particular attention to royal-related bets in Windsor.
The Windsor Express said a spokesperson told them: "Usually, when people from Windsor have bet on the Royal Family they have been spot on, even the colour of the Queen's hat at Royal Ascot. Alarm bells started ringing when the bet came in from Windsor, matches like that don't attract bets of £200 so maybe somebody knows something we don't."
A spokesperson added in a statement that "The significant gamble suggests that the Queen could hand over the reins sooner rather than later."
BettingOther books remain open for the bet, which would indicate that not all the bookies are so convinced of an imminent announcement: William Hill is offering 3/1 on Prince Charles being crowned this year, 5/2 for next year, and 8/11 on 2016 or later.
And, of course, there are any number of other royal novelty bets you can make - as long as you are prepared to lose your money. William Hill is offering bets on when William and Kate will have a second child, and its gender. Meanwhile Coral is offering 20/1 on them having twins and 100/1 on triplets. And Paddy Power has a number of odd bets including the university Prince George will attend, and the year when Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson remarry.