UK: The Queen’s deteriorating health has forced her to withdraw from the state opening of Parliament for the first time in almost 60 years because she continues to suffer from what Buckingham Palace described as “episodic mobility problems”.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, will instead read the Queen’s Speech on the 96-year-old monarch’s behalf and at her request, the palace said on Tuesday (AEST). Prince William will also attend the annual ceremony for the first time.
It will be just the third time in her 70-year reign that she has not attended the event, which marks the beginning of each British Parliamentary year with a speech to the House of Commons that outlines the government’s plans over the next 12 months.
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.
“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 decision to allow Charles to read the Queen’s Speech marks a significant step in the gradual transition of the sovereign’s duties. Traditionally, if the monarch is unavailable, the Lord Chancellor reads on their behalf. This has happened twice in her reign, first when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959 and shortly before the birth of Prince Edward in 1963. Charles has supported her at the state opening since the retirement of the Prince Philip in 2017.
– SKY NEWS