Queen Won't Open Parliament This Time

Given Elizabeth's difficulties getting around, Charles will read speech for her
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2022 6:50 PM CDT
Charles to Read Speech to Parliament for Queen
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II receives the president of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis and his wife, Paola Cassis, during an audience at Windsor Castle last month.   (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP, file)

(Newser) – Queen Elizabeth II will not attend the opening of Parliament on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 60 years, as she struggles with difficulties in getting around. Buckingham Palace said in a statement Monday that the decision was made in consultation with her doctors and that the 96-year-old had "reluctantly" decided not to attend. Prince Charles will read her speech, the AP reports, while for the first time her grandson Prince William will have an official role in the event. It will mark only the third time during her reign that Elizabeth has not opened Parliament. She missed the opening in 1959, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew, and in 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.

The state opening of Parliament is a centuries-old ceremony that marks the start of the legislative year. The pageantry traditionally begins with a coach ride to the Houses of Parliament, which is followed by the monarch reading the Queen's Speech setting out the government's legislative program to a joint session attended by members of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. But taking part also involves navigating stairs and other challenges for someone with troubles moving.

Britain's longest-serving monarch, Elizabeth last appeared in public during a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the life of Prince Philip, her spouse of more than 70 years who died last year. Last week, the palace announced that her difficulties would prevent her from taking part in the summer garden party season. These events feature thousands of guests who sip tea on the lawn of Buckingham Palace or the Palace at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The parties, which involve hours of standing around, walking, and mingling, were set to return for the first time in three years starting next week. The queen is recently recovered from a bout of COVID-19.

(Read more Queen Elizabeth II stories.)

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