Queen health update: Monarch could miss Queen’s Speech as ‘big step’ planned

Queen 'may not be able to get to balcony' for jubilee says Levin

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The State Opening of Parliament is the main ceremonial event in the Parliamentary calendar and will take place on Tuesday, May 10 this year. Its main purpose is for the monarch to formally open Parliament and, in the Queen’s Speech, outline the Government’s proposed policies and legislation for the coming session. The Queen, who has taken a step back from public engagements in recent months, is expected to make a last-minute decision about whether to attend the key state event. 

Her Majesty has only missed the Queen’s Speech twice during her 70-year reign — both times while she was pregnant. 

The monarch’s health concerns have been heightened since a brief stay in hospital last October and she is known to be battling mobility issues. 

If the Queen chooses not to attend the State Opening, it is expected that her heir, Prince Charles, will go on her behalf. 

Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert, told Express.co.uk that the Queen missing the key event, and Charles attending in her place, would be a “big step”. 

He said: “It is one of her keystone annual appearances really. 

“It is the start of the Parliamentary session, and is the start of the Parliamentary year even, it is like the start of term. 

“It is the biggest event in Parliament and the Queen — the monarch — is a part of Parliament in that sense. 

“Constitutionally, it is probably one of the most significant occasions in the year and so for the Queen to decide not to do it, and for Charles to do it in her place, would be a big step.”

He added: “It points out this gradual process that we’re seeing of Charles taking over and doing ever more.”

The Queen did not attend the State Opening in 1959 and 1963 due to her pregnancies with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively. 

On both of these occasions, the Lords Commissioners acted on behalf of the monarch in the proroguing Parliament, appointing the Speaker of the Commons and reading the Queen’s Speech.

Mr Prescott explained that this is the “established procedure” when the monarch cannot attend Parliament. 

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However, according to The Times, discussions on Charles taking over were “advanced”. 

In order for the prince to carry out one of his mother’s constitutional duties, a Royal Commission or Letters Patent would be required. 

Mr Prescott has suggested that a Letters Patent could be used to appoint Charles as Lords Commissioner. 

On Twitter, he wrote: “All that is required is for the Great Seal to be attached to the document. 

Queen delivers speech at State Opening of Parliament in May

“It doesn’t need to go through the Privy Council, so if ready it can be executed quickly.

“This raises the possibility that Prince Charles, who is a Privy Councillor, being appointed as a Lords Commissioner, and could deliver the speech in this capacity.”

It is understood that, if the Queen makes a last-minute decision to attend, she intends to play her full constitutional role at the State Opening. 

If she chooses to attend, she will reportedly travel by car to the Houses of Parliament, use stairs instead of a lift, wear a day dress without a heavy crown and walk as short a route as possible.

A final decision is to be confirmed by the Palace on Tuesday, shortly before the event is set to begin. 

The Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will accompany the monarch, and Charles is likely to assist his mother in the walk to her throne. 

Charles has supported the Queen at the State Opening every year since the retirement of Prince Philip in 2017. 

Although Her Majesty is hopeful about carrying out her key duties, on Thursday it was confirmed that she would no longer be hosting her garden parties.

Instead, other members of the Royal Family will attend the three Buckingham Palace parties this year, as the long periods of standing and walking are no longer suitable for the 96-year-old monarch.  

The garden parties have not been held since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will make their long-awaited return on Wednesday. 

In the past, they have allowed the Queen to meet members of the public from all walks of life.  

Her Majesty’s frailty and health concerns have raised questions about which events she will attend during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. 

Festivities include Trooping the Colour, the Derby at Epsom racecourse and Platinum Party at the Palace. 

Mr Prescott claimed that the Queen’s decision regarding the State Opening on Tuesday will give the public a better idea of Her Majesty’s involvement in the Jubilee celebrations.

He said: “It will be interesting to see what happens there, and it might give us an indication of what will happen at the Jubilee. 

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