The Queen will miss the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow due to mobility issues – with Prince Charles set to stand in for his mother supported by William.
Her Majesty, who has been battling mobility problems for several months, has reluctantly made the decision not to attend for only the third time in her 70-year reign.
Buckingham Palace had been set to wait until Tuesday morning to make a final decision, with aides having prepared contingency plans that included a ‘discreet wheelchair route’, but it is understood she will not attend due to difficulties walking.
Instead, Prince Charles is set to stand in following discussions between the Queen and her aides. He will be supported by his wife Camilla and Prince William, The Sun reports.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: ‘The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow.
‘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, with The Duke of Cambridge also in attendance.’
The Queen pictured as she gave the 2021 Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords in May last year
The Queen escorted by her son Prince Charles during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords last year. Charles will stand in for his mother tomorrow
The Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during the State Opening of Parliament on October 14, 2019
Prince Charles will step in for the Queen, supported by his wife Camilla (pictured together at the State Opening last year)
The Queen standing ahead of her speech in the House of Lords as part of the State Opening of Parliament in 2021
A No 10 spokesman added: ‘The Prime Minister fully respects the wishes of Her Majesty and is grateful to the Prince of Wales for agreeing to deliver the speech on her behalf.’
A new Letters Patent authorised by the Queen was issued to cover the State Opening delegating to Counsellors of State the royal function of opening a new session of Parliament.
In this instance, it enables Charles and William to jointly exercise that function. No other functions have been delegated by the Queen. The decision was taken today.
The Queen’s throne will remain empty in the House of Lords, and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who is also attending, will sit in their usual seats.
William will sit on the opposite side to Camilla.
It is the first time Her Majesty has missed the opening of Parliament for 59 years.
And she has only missed the event twice in her entire reign – in 1959 and 1963 when pregnant.
On those occasions her speech, setting out the government’s legislative plans for the coming year, was read by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Kilmuir.
MailOnline understands the Queen had been intending to appear – but Parliamentary officials were braced for a late withdrawal this evening.
She is understood to have a busy diary at Windsor this week with a call with Australia undertaken on Monday, and a planned virtual Privy Council and phone audience with the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
The monarch is also expected to undertake some private engagements later in the week.
Queen Elizabeth II with Duke of Edinburgh after the State Opening of Parliament on November 17, 1999
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, second left, walk through the Central Lobby on the way to the House of Lords in May last year
A spokesperson for No 10 said the Prime Minister ‘fully respects the wishes of Her Majesty’
Lord Chancellor Viscount Kilmuir, who read the Queen’s Speech when Her Majesty was missing due to being pregnant
Contingency plans had been in place for her appearance, including a ‘discreet wheelchair route’ through Parliament away from the cameras while Charles did the normal procession, but those proposals have now been scrapped.
The monarch would have entered the Palace of Westminster via the Sovereign’s Entrance in the Victoria Tower, where she could use a lift to avoid the 26 steps of the royal staircase.
Palace officials could then have chosen to keep the Royal Gallery empty to allow her to walk the fewest steps possible into the House of Lords, away from public view.
It comes days after an announcement that she will not attend any of the summer’s Buckingham Palace garden parties.
The State Opening of Parliament is one of the monarch’s most significant public duties, and involves the reading of the Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.
The ceremony was not held in 2020 and last year a reduced capacity Covid-secure state opening of Parliament was staged on May 11 with the Queen present.
There had been speculation about whether the Queen would attend, especially after it was announced she would not be attending the garden party season and instead would be represented by members of her family.
The head of state has missed a number of major events this year but has been carrying out virtual engagements and her other duties.
Garden parties will be staged from next week for the first time in three years and are important events in the royal calendar as those who have served their country or communities are invited to the monarch’s home.
Buckingham Palace said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen will be represented by other members of the royal family at this year’s garden parties, with details on attendance to be confirmed in due course.’
The Queen attended a service commemorating the life of the Duke of Edinburgh in March with senior royals and a congregation of hundreds.
She reached her Platinum Jubilee in February, overcame a bout of Covid after testing positive that month, and celebrated her 96th birthday privately on April 21 at her Sandringham estate.
Last October, the Queen spent a night in hospital and spent the following three months under doctors’ orders to only conduct light duties and missed a number of prominent events.
The Queen has been using a walking stick in public since she attended a service marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion last October.