The Palace no doubt wants the Queen to be as battle-ready as possible for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday
The decision was taken on Monday (May 8) amid the Queen’s mobility issues, which are said to have persisted since the autumn.
The monarch has had to cancel many public engagements for health reasons in recent months.
Here’s everything you need to know about them.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Queen continues to suffer from episodic mobility issues and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament.
“At the Your Majesty‘s request and with the approval of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read the Queen’s Speech on behalf of Her Majesty, in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge.”
The decision is seen as a symbolic and significant change in Charles’s obligations as future king when he assumes the core constitutional duty of head of state for the first time.
It will also be William’s first State Opening, and the Queen has given both Charles and William the royal responsibility of founding a new Parliament.
Is she sick?
The Queen may be a respectable 96 years old, but she has been in relatively good health in recent years.
But since autumn 2021, the monarch has missed a number of royal engagements.
This relatively sudden onset of illness has led some people to wonder if an acute illness might be to blame for the mobility issues she’s suffering from, rather than simply ‘age’.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the matter and it is likely that if the head of state were in poor health he would not wish to announce it ahead of the much-anticipated Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Some have also suggested that if the Queen was simply suffering from sore joints, the Queen could have been fitted with a mobility scooter to help her get around at upcoming events.
But the image of a frail monarch opening Parliament from the back of a jeweled mobility scooter is one the palace is likely to want to avoid, though many people believe it would be great for disability awareness if she were seen in a wheelchair .
The Queen reluctantly used a cane at engagements in October 2021, but her rolling at ceremonial occasions amid pomp and pageantry is probably a step too far.
The palace has said efforts are being made to ensure the Queen’s well-being ahead of the upcoming Jubilee celebrations.
What are episodic mobility problems?
But the Queen has continued to host official audiences in person at Windsor Castle, including meetings with heads of state, alongside virtual engagements held remotely.
While it’s easy to speculate on worst-case scenarios, it’s still very possible that the Queen’s mobility issues are just that: mobility issues.
Corresponding HealthinAging.orgMobility issues can include “unsteadiness when walking, difficulty getting in and out of a chair, or falls.”
They list “weakness, joint problems, pain” as the most common causes of such problems, but say they can also be caused by “diseases and neurological (brain and nervous system) difficulties.”
Buckingham Palace has not revealed what is causing the Queen’s mobility issues and is unlikely to do so due to privacy concerns.
The term “episodic” might indicate that the queen has moments of good mobility and periods of bad mobility.
This could explain why Buckingham Palace has recently held back from announcing whether the Queen will be attending events until the day before to gauge her mood on a daily basis.