After her positive Covid test in February and spells of illness causing her to pull back from public events over the last several months, the Queen was advised against attending today’s major ceremony at Parliament, as she continues to experience what the Palace described as “episodic mobility problems”.
Instead, Prince Charles will deliver the Queen’s Speech for the first time, with the Duke of Cambridge also in attendance. The Duchess of Cornwall will also accompany Charles, but the Queen’s main throne will remain empty in the House of Lords.
“The Prince of Wales is of course ready to support Her Majesty the Queen,” a source told PA.
Here’s what you need to know about the Queen’s health and what it means for her role in the public eye.
Is the Queen ill?
“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,” said the Palace said in a statement. “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.”
Despite these reports and past illnesses causing her to pull back from public roles slightly, the Queen is in relatively good health considering her age of 96 years old.
The Palace has not publicised many ongoing issues aside from the ones causing Her Majesty to cancel or delegate appointments. However, with the upcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations, it is unlikely that any word of health issues to do with the monarch would be made public unless necessary.
Her Majesty has begun to use a cane during public engagements since around October 2021, suggesting that she may indeed have some ongoing mobility issues, as noted by the Palace.
What are ‘episodic mobility issues’?
As to what ‘episodic mobility issues’ actually are, this usually refers to infirmity or unsteadiness when walking, perhaps accompanied by weakness or joint pain in key areas.
It seems that these issues are in line with what can be expected from a person of 96 years old after a long and active life.
Can the Queen abdicate?
As questions around the Queen’s health increase and Princes Charles and William step into some of her roles on a more regular basis, some have wondered whether the Queen is likely to abdicate.
Abdication is when a living monarch steps down from the role in order for the next in line to take over. In this instance, that would make Prince Charles the King in his mother’s stead.
The first and only abdication in British history happened in 1936, when the Queen’s own uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced woman. The Crown then fell to his younger brother, George VI, the current Queen’s father.
It is unlikely that the Queen would abdicate and the Palace has given no indication that she plans to do so.
Additional reporting by PA.