The Queen was never meant to be Queen. When she was born in 1926, she was the third in line to the throne and seemed destined to a life of aristocratic wifedom, all dog hair-covered sofas and weekends in Ayrshire and riding to the hounds.
For a woman who loves all things four-legged, it would have probably been a perfectly happy existence, one that demanded not much more of her than a willingness to occasionally present the rosettes at the local gymkhana.
But fate has a funny way of interceding. On a wintry December day in 1936, her uncle King Edward VIII decided that he could not face the prospect of ruling without his American paramour Wallis Simpson by his side and junked the whole crown caper.
(A life of whiling away his days in his garden and scouring Cartier for new trinkets for Wallis awaited him.)
Which is to say, the Queen's life was irredeemably shaped by a quirk of fate, a fact that might go some way to explaining her most recent familial intervention, with the 95-year-old taking steps to head off the chance that her royal refusenik grandson Prince Harry ends up on the throne.
Let me explain.
This situation starts with helicopters, a highly expensive form of transportation which the royal family is overly fond of.
Choppers are one of the key ways that William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge zip about the place, especially for work, meaning they can spend a day in the north of the country charming crowds and still be back in London for bathtime. The Duke of Cambridge, having trained and worked as helicopter pilot, on occasion also pilots himself.
However, this week Her Majesty has reportedly stepped in, fearful that all of this air travel could be tempting disaster, especially when the Cambridge family is travelling en masse.
A source close to the sovereign has told The Sun: "Her Majesty has told close friends and courtiers that she would like William to stop flying himself, particularly in bad weather, as helicopters are not the safest form of transport.
"It keeps the Queen awake at night and she is understandably very worried.
"She knows William is a capable pilot but does not think it is worth the risk for all five of them to carry on flying together and can't imagine what would happen. It would spark a constitutional crisis.
"The Queen has told William she is worried that, however good he is as a pilot, bad weather and accidents can strike at any time."
This is not a needless worry, with the house of Windsor having experienced a very uncomfortable number of close calls in helicopters in recent years.
In August, the Queen's own helicopter was grounded after experiencing an in-flight emergency while on it's way to collect Princess Anne. In September, a planned flight to ferry the Queen was cancelled due to worries about the weather.
In 2019, Sophie the Countess of Wessex narrowly avoided a horror crash after the helicopter she was travelling in nearly collided with a glider.
The same year Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall had not one but two terrifying near-misses while flying from Sandringham to her own home in Wiltshire. (Yes, she kept her house from pre-royal life and regularly stays there to reportedly get away from the hoopla of palace life.)
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority later launched a review of the rules about royal air travel, according to The Sun.
Which all simply confirms that helicopters are dangerous beasts. But where things get particularly interesting is the "why" – that is, why she is so allegedly concerned here, beyond natural grandmotherly worry.
Reportedly, her helicopter concerns are also motivated by fears about what could happen to the monarchy if the worst did happen and the line of succession suffered a brutal bow.
"The Queen is delighted in the way William and Kate have risen to the challenge in recent years and knows the monarchy is safe in their hands," the source told The Sun. "She thinks the future is bright with them at the helm after Charles but if something happened to him and the family, it doesn't bear thinking about."
And there's the rub, because while Harry might be currently essentially a monarchical irrelevance, a tragedy of some sort could see the 36-year-old end up on the throne.
Not to be too macabre here but, should something happen to William and his son and heir Prince George, it would be the now-California-based content creator and man with an unusual fondness for the word "impact" who would ascend to the throne after Charles. (And after Harry? Arise King Archie I.)
Even if the Cambridge family wasn't travelling together, and only father-of-three William was killed in this hypothetical, Harry could end up essentially ruling as he would likely be made Regent if Charles passed away before George turned 18 and the boy could therefore assume the crown in his own right.
Given Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex's loud and pique-fuelled bombardment of the palace this year, it would be understandable if even the remotest possibility of the monarchy ending up in their hands was something keeping his Gan Gan awake at night.
Not so long ago, the prospect of a King Henry IV would have been tragic but also a bit thrilling – what would the irrepressible charmer do with the top job?
Now, that image is less intriguing and more anxiety-inducing for anyone with an interest in the endurance of the monarchy, because the very notion of the Sussexes taking over would be a bit like two militant vegans being left in charge of a butcher shop.
(That said, I for one would love to see what showstopping couture stunners Queen Consort Meghan would pick for the openings of parliament, but that's another story entirely.)
It is by no means guaranteed that the monarchy would survive the Sussexes' stewardship.
The royal family has just, barely, scraped through 2021, having miraculously survived the PR travails sparked by the Sussexes' flouncing off into the sunset and the ongoing, tawdry fiasco that is Prince Andrew.
The Windsors left in the UK with their hands on the royal tiller might currently be enjoying buoyant public support, thanks in part to their stellar showing during the pandemic and leadership on climate change, but these recent gains are tremulous.
All it would take would be a new family scandal, a new Andrew revelation or even new, devastating revelations from Harry for this current state of royal popularity to be dealt a disastrous – even fatal – blow.
The palace desperately needs calm seas and plain sailing in the coming years to really get the royal family back on track after one of the most destabilising and damaging periods in its modern history.
So imagine for a moment, given this highly precarious state of affairs, if the royal house's most vocal critic ended up in the top job.
Would he dismantle an institution he has shown a dearth of respect for or interest in? How would he reshape or remake the organisation which he has blamed for so many of his problems and so much of his unhappiness?
The throne could end up in free-fall.
While this is all "worst case" stuff, the fact that Her Majesty is allegedly concerned about these things hardly suggests that family wounds are healing or hurts being mitigated by time and distance.
Moreover, the house of Windsor might be enjoying a purple patch and a second honeymoon of sorts with the British public, but these recent gains and all of this momentum could be dashed in the blink of a day's news cycle or in one loose bolt in a chopper's rotor.
With the countdown on to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year, the window for the implacable 95-year-old to save the whole regal box and dice is closing - and fast.
• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.