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Queen Hands Over (Some) Duties to Prince Charles

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 (Reuters)

Seen above looking just as surprised by this news as we'd imagine, Queen Elizabeth II has reportedly given likely heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles some additional royal duties.

In what one royal aide described as a "gentle succession," the queen, 87, will slowly allow Charles, 65, to take over some of the more head of state-type responsibilities as she prepares to hand over the reigns.

It's all designed for a seamless transition should the day come when Prince Charles becomes King. As The Mirror has reported, courtiers familiar with the plan call it "wise" and "just plain common sense."

The first order of business will occur in this week when the queen's press office merges with that of Prince Charles. Afterward, we can expect to see Prince Charles and wife Camilla Parker-Bowles in place of the queen at certain royal engagements — especially those that require long flights.

“While the Queen is still in excellent health, she is inevitably becoming a little more frail because of her age. Charles and Camilla will be doing much more of the public work on her behalf," an aide said. (Again, see the photo above.)

Prince Charles' sons, William and Harry, have also been given more royal responsibilities now that their duties with the armed forces have finished.

"What you are seeing, albeit very subtly, is a monarchy in transition," added The Mirror's source. "The participation of all the players, particularly Charles and William, is crucial in making things work."