Queen ‘to have discussion’ with Prince Charles says Levin
The Prince of Wales has edged one step closer to his future role as he read for the first time the Queen’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda. In another royal first, Prince Charles attended the important duty in the presence of his son and heir Prince William.
The Queen was still represented at the Houses of Parliament with the presence of the Imperial Crown, carried from Buckingham Palace to Whitehall.
Hours after a Buckingham Palace spokesperson had said the monarch “still hoped” to be able to attend the State Opening of Parliament, it was announced on Monday evening the Queen would pull out of the duty because she is still experiencing “episodic mobility problems”.
The statement 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.”
Prince Charles arriving at the Houses of Parliament
Palace sources stressed the monarch is still working behind her residence’s walls, saying she has a “busy diary” this week which include a call with Australia, a Privy Council meeting and an audience with the UK Prime Minister.
In order to have Prince Charles read the Queen’s Speech on her behalf, the sovereign had to sign a new letters patent.
The Prince of Wales, who arrived at Parliament accompanied by his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, carried out this duty as Counsellor of State and, as such, had to be joined by a second Counsellor – his son – as two Counsellors of State are required at all times to carry out the Queen’s constitutional duties in her absence.
Today’s event is a “significant moment” for both William and Charles, royal expert Peter Hunt said.
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Prince William arriving at the Houses of Parliament
He told PA: “Charles will accelerate his on-the-job training.
“The heir is teetering on the edge of becoming a de-facto prince regent.
“William will observe what awaits him.
“With the Queen progressively withdrawing from public life, the palace is keen to show the monarchy is safe in the hands of father and son.”
This is the first time Prince William attends the State Opening of Parliament
Prince William is still scheduled to carry out a particularly poignant engagement in Manchester later today alongside Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
The couple will officially launch the Glade of Light memorial – the memorial garden created to remember the 22 victims of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in 2017.
The Cambridges will also meet some of the victims’ loved ones and join a private reception at Manchester Cathedral.
Her Majesty missed the State Opening of Parliament ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on two other occasions during her record-breaking reign.
Both her previous absences from Whitehall, in 1959 and 1963, were due to her pregnancies.
At the time, the incumbent Lord Chancellor stood in for the monarch.
The Queen first sparked health concerns among royal watchers on October 20, when she cancelled her trip to Northern Ireland to mark the nation’s centenary after her doctors advised her to rest for a few days.
It later emerged she had been taken to hospital on that same day to run a few “preliminary tests”, the nature of which has never been disclosed.
The Queen did not attend any other event in person outside of her residence for the rest of 2021, but continued to meet via video link and face to face dignitaries, politicians and honourees.
Earlier this year, the monarch hosted a reception at Sandringham House for local charities, during which she was reportedly in sparkling form, chatting with guests and moving around the ballroom at ease.
She also met staff from Halcyon Days who brought some pieces of their enamelware collection to Windsor Castle in lieu of a royal visit to the factory.
In both instances, she used a light walking stick, which she was first spotted using during an event at Westminster Abbey in early October.
In mid-March, after she missed the Commonwealth Day service, a Palace source said the Queen experiences “good days and less good days” and is “aware of her frailties”.
The source told the Mirror: “The Queen is very aware that with the passage of time must come an awareness of one’s own frailties and we are very much in that moment.
“The Queen is still utterly determined to serve to the maximum extent that she can and the renewal of her vow, dedicating her life service, is one that Her Majesty takes incredibly seriously.”
The sovereign’s only in-person engagement outside of her residence in 2022 has so far been in late March, when she attended the service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey.