The Queen will not be attending tomorrow’s State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, Buckingham Palace has said.
In a statement, 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.”
The Prince of Wales will read the Queen’s Speech on her behalf, with the Duke of Cambridge also in attendance.
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.
The Imperial State Crown will still travel to Parliament.
A No 10 spokesman said: “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 on Monday.
Royal commentator Alastair Bruce, told Sky News: “The Queen will feel very sad that she doesn’t feel able to do this.
“She has left it literally to the last minute – trying, I’m sure to be present and do her duty as she would see it.
“But I don’t think anyone would expect someone who is her age to have to go through something she’s not comfortable doing.”
During the ceremony the monarch reads out the government’s plans for upcoming legislation.
This is only the third time in her reign she has failed to do attend.
Before now, the Queen has only missed the opening of Parliament twice during her time on the throne – in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant.
It is the latest in a number of events she has been forced to miss in recent months.
It’s been reported that her attendance at events is now being decided on a case-by-case basis.
In October last year, the Queen sprained her back, preventing her from attending the Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph.
Then, in February, she tested positive for coronavirus, as a result of which the palace said she experienced mild cold-like symptoms.
Yet, within two weeks of her diagnosis, she was attending virtual engagements again.
The Queen was able to attend Prince Philip’s Service of Thanksgiving in late March but did not attend the Easter Sunday church service at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
During a virtual meeting of hospital staff in London last month she admitted she was left “very tired and exhausted” by her bout of COVID-19.
By the end of April, the 96-year-old monarch, who is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee this year, was able to carry out an in-person audience with the president of Switzerland at Windsor Castle, after a week-long break on the Sandringham estate.
At the time, Buckingham Palace said she was planning to attend the opening of Parliament, but said confirmation was expected closer to the time.
Her absence will raise concerns she may not be able to take part in her jubilee celebrations that are just over a month away.