The Queen will skip the opening of Parliament for the first time in decades
Queen Elizabeth II will not attend the opening of Parliament on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 60 years because she struggles to get around.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Monday that the decision was made in consultation with her doctors and the 96-year-old had “reluctantly” decided not to attend. Prince Charles will read his speech, while for the first time his grandson Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will play an official role in the event.
“At Her Majesty’s request and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, the Prince of Wales will read the Queen’s Speech on Her Majesty’s behalf, also in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge,” the palace said in a statement.
It will only be the third time in her reign that Elizabeth has failed to open Parliament. She had already missed the opening in 1959, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew, and in 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.
The official opening of Parliament is an age-old ceremony that marks the beginning of the legislative year. The pageantry traditionally begins with a coach ride to the Houses of Parliament, followed by the monarch reading the Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s legislative program in a joint session attended by members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons.
But participating also involves navigating stairs and other challenges for someone with mobility issues.
Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Elizabeth last appeared in public at a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the life of Prince Philip, her husband of more than 70 years who died last year.
Last week, the palace also announced that its difficulties would also prevent it from participating in the summer garden party season. These events feature thousands of guests sipping tea on the lawns of Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
The guests are people from across the country who have all served their communities, and it’s considered a great up-close look at the sovereign. The Queen is known for wearing bright colors to ensure she can be seen.
Parties, which involve hours spent standing, walking and mingling, were due to return for the first time in three years from next week.
Elizabeth, who also recently recovered from a bout of COVID-19, has spent much of the past two years at Windsor Castle in west London, where she has taken refuge during the pandemic. She continued to work throughout this period, although most of her duties were carried out virtually, including meetings with ambassadors, health workers and school children.