Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
That common paraphrasing of Shakespeare seems especially poignant these days, as the British Royal Family endures one scandal after another and faces tough questions about the future of the institution.
The latest decline in the Windsors’ reputation began with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step down from their roles as senior members of the royal family.
But recent weeks have brought missteps and misfortunes that cannot be blamed on the family’s favorite scapegoats.
First, Prince Andrew reached a settlement with Virginia Giuffre, an American woman who says Andrew raped her after she was forced into sexual slavery by Jeffrey Epstein.
Multiple UK media outlets have reported that the notoriously cash-strapped Andrew settled the case with money he had received from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
And that was not the end of the week’s bad news.
On Sunday, it was reported that the Queen had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
This was the latest in a long line of troubling updates about the Queen’s health, and many are growing concerned about the 95-year-old’s longterm prognosis as her Platinum Jubilee approaches.
Prince Charles recently tested positive for Covid for the second time, and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, has contracted the virus as well.
Needless to say, these are dark, difficult times for the Royals, and according to a new report from People magazine, the situation has begun to take a toll on Elizabeth’s emotions.
"It’s a drip-feed of negativity for the monarchy," a palace insider tells the outlet.
"I’ve not known such a tumultuous time as this," the source continues.
"It just feels to be one thing after another for the Queen. It’s going to take a toll."
Adding to the Queen’s distress over recent events is the fact that Covid has forced her into partial isolation.
"There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely," says the palace insider, noting that the Queen is accustomed to interacting with dozens of different people every day.
The source says that it "must be hard," for Elizabeth to adjust to this new lifestyle at her advanced age, especially when there are so many issues demanding her attention:
"Whatever the symptoms, when you’re feeling below par, having to deal with the other problems is really hard."
The source offers some hope, noting that the Queen "is stoical and mentally strong."
However, signs of her physical deterioration have been apparent in recent weeks.
People notes that Elizabeth quipped that she "can’t move" as she gestured to a cane during her last in-person meeting before contracting Covid.
Royal experts who have been observing the Queen from afar for decades say she’s got a tremendous challenge ahead of her — but she’s been overcoming such obstacles for her entire life.
"In the past, one of the things that’s always been a way for her to cope is to be physically active," says historian Amanda Foreman, author of Queen Victoria’s Buckingham Palace.
"And with that being curtailed, it makes it especially hard."
"She’s very, very good at dealing with what life throws at her. She understands that she needs to project that positive image more than ever and go about her business," Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch.
People’s source says the Queen is laser-focused on one task: getting back on her feet in time for the Platinum Jubilee.
"Her main concern will be to get back to be in fighting form to start the Jubilee celebrations," says the insider.
"She’s of the generation where you ‘suck it up.’ It is duty first."
It certainly won’t be easy, but this is a woman who delivered radio addresses for the benefit of her teenage peers as bombs fell on London during the German Blitz.
If anyone’s up to the task of inspiring her countrymen during this latest public crisis, it’s Queen Elizabeth II.