An adult life spent almost entirely in the elevated cocoon of the monarchy must surely be a life devoid of freedom, and detached from the rhythms of the real world, no matter how good the heart of the monarch may be.
So we say "Gefeliciteerd Uwe Majesteit" to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who turns 75 on Thursday, and appears to be in robust health. It is the younger Beatrix, not the 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth, who has decided to step down. In doing so, she is keeping a weather eye on the constitutional health of her country.
If Elizabeth is choosing the opposite route, to stay on for the constitutional health of the nation, it does not reflect well on the nation's confidence in succession nor her confidence in her heir, Prince Charles. He will be old before he will be king.
The Queen thus received a big royal tap on the shoulder on Monday when Beatrix surprised the Netherlands when she announced on national television she would step down on April 30, after 33 years as monarch, to make way for her 45-year-old eldest son, Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange.
''It is with the greatest of confidence, that I will hand over the throne on April 30 to my son,'' Queen Beatrix announced. ''I'm not standing down because public service is too heavy for me, but because of the belief that responsibility for our country should be in the hands of a new generation.''
She is stepping aside to refresh the monarchy and keep it vital. In contrast, the British monarch, by staying on, and on, is making the monarchy appear solid but ossified. Elizabeth may have a private wit, but her public personality has become stultifying. Her speeches are scripted into corporate caution and are delivered with a woodenness devoid of vivacity.
Elizabeth had led a sheltered life before becoming queen. She was educated privately at home, never attended university, married at 21, a mother at 22 and queen at 25.
It is so different across the Channel, where Queen Beatrix, educated at schools in Canada and Holland and graduated in law from Leiden University, and is now following the lead of her mother, Juliana, a beloved queen. In 1980, Juliana abdicated to make way for her then 42-year-old daughter, after 32 years as queen, just as her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, had abdicated in favour of her daughter.
April 30 will thus be the first day in 123 years that Holland has a king, since the death of Willem III in 1890. Holland's national holiday, Queen's Day, will be moved forward by three days, to April 27, Willem Alexander's birthday; a soon-to-be King's Day.
Beatrix is departing, and Elizabeth, who has been queen for almost twice as long, is staying. Next Wednesday will be the 61st anniversary of her becoming Queen, on February 6, 1952, though her coronation did not take place until June 1953.
Long has she reigned, though still not as long as her great-great-grandmother, Victoria (via her great-grandfather, Edward VII, grandfather, George V, and father, George VI). Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until 1901 and was also Empress of India for 25 years. Her reign was so long - 63 years and seven months - that it became an era and the longest reign in history by a queen.
Elizabeth will begin eclipsing this marathon if she is still queen in September 2015. She would be 89. Prince Charles would be almost 67.
If the Queen stays on until she is 90 it will be a vote of no-confidence in her eldest son [and] invite infirmity into the image of the monarchy.
Surely, by February 6, 2017, the 65th anniversary of Elizabeth's becoming queen, and two months before her 90th birthday, it will be time to step aside. Charles would be 68.
If the Queen stays on until she is 90 it will be a vote of no-confidence in her eldest son, invite infirmity into the image of the monarchy, and confirm a sense of insecurity around the royal succession. The last time a British monarch abdicated it created a national trauma, when Edward VIII chose love over duty and abdicated in 1936 to marry an American divorcee.
There is ample latitude for royal change in Britain. The Official Website of the British Monarchy points out that the process of succession ''can be regulated by Parliament, and a Sovereign can be deprived of his title through misgovernment … Parliament, under the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, also laid down various conditions which the Sovereign must meet. A Roman Catholic is specifically excluded from succession to the throne; nor may the Sovereign marry a Roman Catholic.''
The anachronisms of the Act of Settlement are increasingly self-evident. So, too, is the anachronism that stigma attaches to a British monarch who chooses to step aside.
One would hope that the news from Amsterdam this week will galvanise the succession planning in Buckingham Palace and Westminster.
- An earlier version of this article said that Queen Victoria was the great-great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. "Gefeliciteerd uw magesty" has also been amended to read "Gefeliciteerd Uwe Majesteit".