Queen Elizabeth will not attend the opening of Parliament on Tuesday due to continuing mobility issues.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Monday that the decision was made in consultation with her doctors as she “continues to experience episodic mobility issues” and that she had “reluctantly” decided not to attend.
“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 Queen Elizabeth, 96, 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.
This will be the first time that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge has played an official role in the event.
Tested positive for COVID-19 in February
Britain’s longest-serving monarch, the Queen 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 .
She has spent much of the past two years at Windsor Castle, 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.
She tested positive for COVID-19 in February and said she was very tired. She also spent a night in hospital in October for an unspecified illness.