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Commonwealth Day: Queen Elizabeth Issues Statement

The Queen today said she hoped the Commonwealth ‘remains an influential force for good in our world for many generations to come’ as she renewed her promise made in 1947 to ‘always be devoted in service’.

Buckingham Palace issued the 95-year-old monarch’s Commonwealth Day Message today ahead of the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, which she is missing for the first time in almost a decade.

The Queen, who has recently recovered from coronavirus and has been experiencing mobility issues, had hoped to attend the important event in the royal calendar alongside Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and Kate.

But last Friday, palace officials revealed that the Queen – who is Head of the Commonwealth – had asked her son Charles to represent her at the service after discussing arrangements with members of the Royal Household.

In today’s message, she said it was ‘rewarding to observe a modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth that combines a wealth of history and tradition with the great social, cultural and technological advances of our time’.

And she said: ‘In these testing times, it is my hope that you can draw strength and inspiration from what we share, as we work together towards a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

‘And on this special day for our family – in a year that will include the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Commonwealth Games – I hope we can deepen our resolve to support and serve one another, and endeavour to ensure the Commonwealth remains an influential force for good in our world for many generations to come.’

Today, the Daily Mail reported that the Queen’s diary is ‘under review’ and she is unlikely to ever undertake some major public engagements such as investitures again.

Sources stress that the monarch is not ill and is ‘as committed to her duties of state as ever’.

But senior royal aides – as well as the Queen herself – are understood to have accepted that the ‘frailties that come with living a long life’ are finally catching up with her.

She will still attend public events where possible, but her appearances will be significantly curtailed.

That means standing on her feet for hour-long public investitures are out and they will be conducted by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal instead.

A source told the Daily Mail: ‘The Queen is still as alert, able and interested as ever but, physically, she isn’t as strong as she once was, which is entirely understandable for a woman of her age.’

Buckingham Palace declined to comment. However, a royal source said: ‘The Royal Family understands the important role investitures play in recognising service and celebrating people’s contribution to society and there has been a real drive to catch up on the backlog created by Covid restrictions.

‘The Prince of Wales, Princess Royal and Duke of Cambridge have been leading the charge. It’s easy to envisage that they will continue in that vein but I wouldn’t rule out Her Majesty doing smaller or one-off investitures.’

The news comes after the monarch was forced to pull out of today’s Commonwealth Service.

Last Friday, Buckingham Palace, which earlier in the week had still insisted she ‘hoped’ to be there, announced that she had asked the Prince of Wales to represent her at Westminster Abbey.

The Queen, who has suffered a string of debilitating health issues since last autumn and is increasingly using a walking stick, was extremely ‘regretful’ about the decision, it is understood.

It would have been her first public appearance since last October.

She last missed the service nine years ago, in 2013, while recovering from a nasty bout of gastroenteritis.

Before that, the Queen had not been absent from a Commonwealth Day observance service for 20 years, the last time being when she had flu in 1993.

Buckingham Palace had said she hoped to attend three significant events in March – the annual Diplomatic Reception, which was cancelled as a result of the war in Ukraine, the Commonwealth Service, and the service of thanksgiving for her late husband at Westminster Abbey on March 29.

The Mail understands that the Queen – who also contracted Covid last month – is still determined to attend the service for the Duke of Edinburgh and may even be ‘pacing herself’ in public so she can.

Last Monday, she met with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle, her first in-person meeting since recovering from Covid.

Both Mr Trudeau and other sources have said she was in good health and was not using her walking stick.

Another source who saw her at Sandringham last month confirmed she appeared to be ‘bright, alert and walking relatively unencumbered’.

But insiders acknowledge that, like any woman of her great age, the Queen has ‘good days and less good days, as you would expect’.

The Commonwealth, affectionately known as the ‘family of nations’, has played an important role throughout her reign, and the Queen takes a special interest in the institution.

But last Friday, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘After discussing the arrangements with the royal household, the Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

‘The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead.’

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

Organised 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.

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

With the Queen due to celebrate her 96th birthday in less than six weeks, maintaining her comfort is a consideration and it is understood she has been pacing herself, although she was keen to do what work she could during her bout 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.

It was claimed yesterday that the Queen has not been able to walk her dogs at Windsor for the last six months, although sources stressed she has been out on the estate.

And The Mail on Sunday revealed courtiers were sufficiently concerned to be discussing whether she would be mobile enough to attend Philip’s memorial.

This will inevitably call into question how much the Queen will be able to take part in June’s celebrations to mark her Platinum Jubilee.

Source: Daily Mail

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