The future of the British Royal family appears to be in turmoil.
Over the weekend, royal watchers were stunned to read of a possible shakeup at Windsor Castle. A story, published and quickly deleted by Yahoo, claimed that Prince William would be taking over the British throne after his grandmother's death — surpassing his father, the current heir apparent.
And while the story proved to be, at the very best, hearsay, it did point out the very real feelings among Britons that they would rather see William become King than his father, Charles.
According to a recent poll by The Sun, 51 percent of respondents said they'd prefer William over Charles as their next King. A mere 22 percent of the 2,000 respondents said they want Charles to become King. As The Sun noted, however, the majority of those respondents were over the age of 75.
"Gosh that's got to hurt — after all the preparation he's put into this. I think Charles will be devastated," Penny Junor, Camilla's biographer, commented to The Sun on the rather blunt poll.
But despite how the public feels, Charles will most likely become King. And if new rumors are true, he could take the throne while Queen Elizabeth II is still alive.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, if the Queen makes it to her 95th birthday, she may enact a piece of legislation known as the Regency Act, which would give Charles full power to reign while she's still alive.
The act, the Daily Mail explained, grants power to the heir apparent "in the event of the incapacity of the Sovereign through illness, and for the performance of certain of the Royal functions in the name and on behalf of the Sovereign in certain other events."
Already, Charles has stood in for his mother at various events. On July 28, it was also announced that he would represent the Queen at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
"Out of the profound respect the Queen holds for the institution of monarchy and its stewardship, Her Majesty would want to make sure that she has done everything she can for her country and her people before she hands over. She is dutiful to her core," a royal insider told the Daily Mail. "Her Majesty is mindful of her age and wants to make sure when the time comes, the transition of the Crown is seamless."
According to Business Insider, the Queen alone cannot enact the Regency Act. Instead, a group decision has to be made by at least three of the following individuals: the Sovereign's consort (Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip); Lord Chancellor David Lidington; the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow; the Lord Chief Justice, the incoming Sir Ian Burnett; and Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton.
It's important to note that the Regency Act it is not tantamount to abdication, something the Queen has sworn time and time again to never do. Instead, it's a soft transition of the throne to help ensure the monarchy's future.
"As ever, the Queen wants there to be the minimum of fuss," an unnamed former member of the Royal Household said in a statement. "Of course, for obvious reasons, abdication is not even a consideration."
And as such a traditionalist, the Queen is unlikely to make the decision to pass over her own son for her grandson.
However, at 68, Charles will already be the oldest King to ever take over the throne, and may indeed make that convention-shattering decision himself.
Now all we have to do is wait another three and half years for the Queen's 95th birthday to find out.