- Sean Coughlan
- Royal Affairs Correspondent, BBC News
Buckingham Palace announced the withdrawal of Queen Elizabeth II from attending the opening ceremony of Parliament this year, and the tradition of reading the annual royal speech.
The Queen will be absent from this constitutional tradition, in which the government’s legislative plans are determined, for the first time since 1963.
Prince Charles will deliver the speech on behalf of the Queen on Tuesday.
The 96-year-old queen has mobility problems and was recently forced to cancel her attendance Several public events.
As of Monday evening, Buckingham Palace had hoped the Queen would attend, but has now confirmed that the Queen will not attend the ceremony in Westminster due to what it said were “occasional problems with her mobility”.
The statement said the Queen, in consultation with her doctors, reluctantly decided not to attend the official opening of Parliament.
Combined powers were given to Princes Charles and William, to open Parliament sessions on behalf of the Queen.
The imperial crown will be transferred to Parliament, and the Queen’s throne will remain empty, with Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William facing the assembled members of Parliament expected to sit.
The Queen’s absence from this occasion comes after a series of absences from several occasions, including the Easter celebrations, and her announcement that she will not host the royal garden parties this year.
The Thanksgiving feast dedicated to her husband Prince Philip in March was the only official occasion the Queen attended outside the royal palaces.
But it is also known that the Queen intends to go ahead with attending some appointments this week, including regular meetings with the Prime Minister and the Privy Council, which are held virtually or over the phone, as well as the completion of some private engagements.
The official opening of Parliament marks the beginning of the parliamentary year, during which the Queen’s speech sets the agenda for the government and the laws it wants to introduce.
It was customary for the Queen to read the speech, in her capacity as Head of State. The Queen did not miss this occasion during her 70 years on the throne, with the exception of 1959 and 1963, due to pregnancy.
On both occasions, the Queen’s Counsel read the letter, but this year the Prince of Wales will replace the Queen.
Some adjustments have been made to the official opening in recent years – with the Queen not wearing the heavy imperial crown or ceremonial dress, and there was a reduced attendance last year due to Covid restrictions.
But this is the first time since 59 that the Queen has missed the opening.
Prince Charles will open Parliament sessions with Prince William as “advisers of state”, allowing them to perform such official duties if the king is temporarily ill.
There are four advisers, including Prince Andrew, who has been stripped of his royal powers, and Prince Harry, who has relinquished his royal powers and lives in the United States.
Two of these advisors must be present to undertake this duty on behalf of the Head of State.
Powers were given to the chancellors to open Parliament sessions through the Queen’s “letter of authorization”, which activated the role of Princes Charles and William to do so.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said the Prime Minister “fully respects Her Majesty’s wishes and is grateful to the Prince of Wales for agreeing to deliver the speech on her behalf”.
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