Queen Elizabeth II will miss the opening of Parliament for just the third time in 70 years on the British throne due to continuing mobility issues, Buckingham Palace announced on Monday.
In a statement shared with USA TODAY, the palace said the Queen consulted with her doctors and “reluctantly” decided not to attend as she continued to experience episodic mobility issues.
Prince Charles will read his speech, which sets out the government’s program for the next parliamentary session. Prince William will also be present.
Presiding over the elaborate State Opening of Parliament and delivering the Queen’s Speech from the Sovereign’s throne is one of the monarch’s most important roles as head of state. In all the years of her reign, the Queen only missed attending the ceremony twice, both while pregnant with her two youngest children in the 1960s.
Last week, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would miss the traditional royal garden party season, where she would normally meet hundreds of people on the grounds of her residences in London and Edinburgh. She will instead be represented by other members of her family, according to a statement from the palace.
In February, the Queen tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks after Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla tested positive. The palace said the queen experienced mild, cold-like symptoms. She has recovered and attended a handful of public events over the past few months – including a service honoring the life of her late husband Prince Philip – while continuing to hold regular virtual audiences.
Previous story:Queen Elizabeth II seen using a cane during Westminster Abbey service
She also spent a night in the hospital in October and performed only light duties for several months thereafter on the orders of her doctors. The palace gave no details of the tests carried out during the hospital stay, but it came days after doctors recommended rest and she was seen using a cane .
She generally enjoyed good health throughout her long life. Prior to October, she was last hospitalized in 2013, when she was 86, after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis.
The Queen celebrated her platinum jubilee – 70 years on the throne – in February. Large-scale festivities to celebrate this milestone, including concerts and pageants, will take place later this month and in June.
She celebrated her 96th birthday privately last month at her estate in Sandringham, eastern England. Meanwhile, the palace has released a new portrait of the longtime monarch, standing between and holding the reins of two of her fallen ponies.
Contributors: Maria Puente and Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press