he Royal Family will attend the annual Commonwealth Day service, but the Queen will miss the event for the first time in nearly a decade.

The Queen, who recently recovered from a bout of Covid, had hoped to attend the important event on the royal calendar alongside the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Commonwealth, affectionately known as the “family of nations”, played an important role throughout her reign, and she took a particular interest in the institution.

The Queen, Prince of Wales, Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge leave after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in 2020 (Yui Mok/PA) / PA Archives

But on Friday, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “After discussing arrangements with the Royal Household, The Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty in Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

“The Queen will pursue other scheduled engagements, including in-person audiences, in the coming week.”

She last missed service nine years ago, in 2013, while recovering from bad gastroenteritis.

Prior to this, the Queen had not been absent from a Commonwealth Day celebration service for 20 years, the last time when she had the flu in 1993.

Highlights of the service at Westminster Abbey on Monday will include an address by former Archbishop Lord Sentamu, a reflection by young Tongan leader Elizabeth Kite and special musical performances by Emeli Sande and Mica Paris.

Flag bearers will be present at the Commonwealth Day service. Richard Pohle/The Times / PA Archives

Organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the service will feature the Queen’s Commonwealth Day message.

The service would have been the Queen’s first major public appearance since reaching her Platinum Jubilee milestone in February.

His decision not to attend is likely to be interpreted as a precautionary measure by royal commentators, and a practical decision, rather than a new health concern.

With the Queen due to celebrate her 96th birthday in less than six weeks, keeping her comfortable is a consideration and it is understood she has been pacing herself, although she was keen to do all the work she could during her battle of Covid.

Commonwealth Day has not been celebrated in person since 2020, when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their last public appearance with senior members of the Royal Family before moving to North America.


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