Britain's Queen Elizabeth is set to step down from the throne and allow her son Prince Charles to become the country's monarch in five years' time, according to senior palace sources.
The 82-year-old monarch has reportedly told confidantes she is planning to abdicate when she is 87 and allow Charles to become king at the age of 65.
The report has emerged after senior courtiers were allegedly overheard discussing the queen's plans at a party to celebrate Charles' 60th birthday last week. In order for the throne to be handed over to Charles, an act of Parliament would have to be passed, but it is not a complicated process according to Dr. Stephen Cretney QC, Oxford University's Emeritus Fellow in Legal History.
He told Britain's The Sunday Express newspaper: "When Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, Parliament passed the Act in a day. There is no reason to suppose the same thing could not happen in this case."
However, in order for the process to complete the queen would have to receive blessings from various countries in the Commonwealth, who would also be losing their monarch.
Dr. Cretney added: "Some Commonwealth countries may have to also give their assent. It may be that Australia would also require a referendum."
A spokesperson for the queen's London residence Buckingham Palace denied the claims, insisting: "The Queen has always made it clear that she will not step down and that hasn't changed."
It has also been claimed Charles would be a much more controversial monarch than his mother, and is keen to make his opinions on matters of "national and international importance" clear - becoming the first monarch to do so.
Jonathan Dimbleby, a royal biographer and close friend of the prince, said: "There are now discreet moves afoot to redefine the future role of the sovereign so that it would allow King Charles III to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable."
But Jonathan added: "To breach this convention, however cautiously, would represent a seismic shift in the role of the sovereign. It has the potential to be constitutionally and politically explosive."