Queen Elizabeth II has been an exemplary public figure since taking the throne in 1953 at just 25 years old. But now the 96-year-old monarch is facing seemingly endless scandals related to family members, and royal insiders say she is exhausted. “The poor woman must be so tired,” says royal expert Daniela Elser. “Not only is she still working, more than three decades after most people retire, but her family is a source of never-ending scandal and strain with things only looking like they are going to ramp up more.” Here’s what the Queen is said to be dealing with, according to royal insiders.
The buzz around Prince Harry’s upcoming tell-all isn’t dying down, even though there still isn’t an official publication date for the memoir. There is also concern about the Netflix documentary Harry and Meghan are filming, with insiders worried he might throw family members under the bus—including his brother William and sister-in-law Kate Middleton.
“The New York Post has been saying this week that Netflix is putting pressure on them to come out with this docuseries by the end of the year to tie in with Harry’s memoirs which are due to be published before the year is out,” says royal editor Rebecca English. “They obviously want their pound of flesh and will want to film as much up-to-the-minute footage as they can. I just feel sorry for the Queen in all of this. She’s 96 years old, she’s on her own now, she’s lost her husband. Her health is not what it was. I don’t want to put the frighteners on anyone, but we have seen it decline a lot in the last six months.”
Prince Andrew’s ill-advised car crash Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis is being made into two films, once again raking up the scandalous details of his alleged friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. Maitlis and BBC producer Sam McAlister are both making film versions of the lead up to the interview and aftermath. “This latest exploitation for financial gain of a book and now a film of what was, and remains, a very difficult time for the family, is unwelcome,” a royal insider claims. “Not least as the account of events leading up to and around the interview appear to have elements of dramatic license.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning a trip to the UK in September, and it’s still not confirmed whether they will be meeting with the Queen. “Finding time to see Harry’s grandmother the Queen whether it be at Balmoral or Windsor Castle is important,” says royal commentator Ingrid Seward. “She might be 96 and be suffering from mobility problems, but she is still in charge. There is no way the Sussexes would want to upset her and making the effort to travel to Scotland if the Queen is still in residence, would go down well.”
Prince Philip was always Queen Elizabeth’s rock, insiders say, so losing her husband of more than 73 years last year was incredibly difficult. “She’ll be missing his companionship deeply,” a source close to her told PEOPLE Royals. “But she is a stoic person.”
“The way he died, so very peacefully, there was a natural way to how he left,” says royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. “I am sure she had plenty of time to prepare for it… I don’t think anyone should underestimate that, however resilient, however faith-based and however strong she is, this is a confidant who is no longer there.”
Despite dealing with constant scandal, the Queen has always maintained a dignified silence—”never complain, never explain” is said to be her motto. “The very lack of personal drama has arguably been the secret of Elizabeth II’s success,” Tracy Borman, author of Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy told PEOPLE. “According to Proverbs, ‘the heart of Kings is unknowable. This is particularly true of Elizabeth II, who throughout her long reign has played her cards very close to her chest.”