The Racing Card

The Bet - Will the Queen abdicate in 2001?

Will the Queen abdicate in 2001: 25-1
(Source: William Hill)

Political junkies may think that the big story of the week was the Nice summit, but to most punters it was the pictures of the future king, Prince William. Hague's piss-poor performance in the House of Commons following the summit strengthened the odds in favour of a Labour victory at the election, but the bookies took more money on royal bets last week. Even the Guardian has got in on the royal act by threatening to use the human rights legislation to force a change in the Act of Succession 1701.

This is hardly a new proposal, as readers of Scotland on Sunday will testify, but it does seem incredible that, of all the breaches of human rights, Britain's leading liberal newspaper should bother itself with such trivia. It must think, like the tabloids, that royal stories sell papers.

With the pictures of Prince William toughing it out in Chile, we have been subjected to the biggest PR spin of the year. What an ordinary guy this is, we are supposed to think, conveniently forgetting that he went to Eton. The problem with this latest royal coup is that the punters may begin to think that William would make a better king than Charlie when Liz decides to call it a day. The problem for Charlie is that Liz shows no signs of chucking it in and, if she lives as long as her mum, he will be too old to take on the job.

In 2002, we will be subjected to the Queen's golden jubilee, when those of us who are old enough will be able to dust off our "Stuff the Jubilee" badges lovingly kept from the silver one. The bookies would not give me odds for Liz to retire in 2002, but they aren't offering very good odds for next year. One punter has placed a hefty bet at 25-1, and has even put a few quid at 10-1 on her to call it a day over the May bank holiday. Now that would liven up the election campaign.