Friday, May 20

Prince Charles to stand in for Queen at UK parliament opening

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The Queen has cut back on numerous public appearances in recent months. – AFP file photo

LONDON (May 10): Prince Charles will replace his 96-year-old mother Queen Elizabeth II at Tuesday’s ceremonial opening of the UK parliament, Buckingham Palace said Monday, citing the monarch’s ongoing mobility issues.

“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,” the palace said in a statement on the eve of the pomp-filled event.

“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,” it added, referring to her eldest son and heir to the throne, Charles.

The palace added that the Queen’s eldest grandson, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and next in the line of succession, would also attend the elaborate State Opening of Parliament ceremony.

As head of state, the Queen usually presides over the annual event, reading out her government’s legislative programme in an address from a gilded throne in the House of Lords.

But Buckingham Palace had not confirmed her attendance in the run-up to this year’s spectacle, which culminates in the so-called Queen’s Speech at around 11:30 am (1030 GMT) on Tuesday.

The monarch has rarely been seen in public since spending an unscheduled night in hospital in October last year, and has complained of difficulties standing and working, as well as a bout of Covid.

She has missed only two state openings during her record-breaking 70-year reign, in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and then Prince Edward.

She has cut back on numerous public appearances in recent months, and last week the palace announced she will not attend this summer’s royal garden parties, usually a regular feature in her yearly diary.

The monarch recently returned to Windsor Castle after a week-long break on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England, where she marked her 96th birthday in private on April 21.

Royal tradition since the 18th century has also seen the monarch have a second, official birthday, typically celebrated in warmer weather in June.

This year’s official birthday coincides with her Platinum Jubilee, and four days of public events from June 2 to 5 to mark her record-breaking 70th year on the throne. – AFP