Prince Charles formally opened Britain’s Parliament for the first time Tuesday after his 96-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was forced to miss the key ceremony for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Charles, who in recent years has supported his monarch mother at the pomp-filled ceremony, instead took her place after she was forced to skip it due to “episodic mobility problems.”
Wearing full military regalia, the 73-year-old heir to the throne arrived at Parliament to a trumpet fanfare and the national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”
He was then seated beside the queen’s crown and flanked by his wife, Camilla, and his eldest son, Prince William, 39, who is also destined to be a future king as second in line to the throne.
Charles delivered the Queen’s Speech from the consort’s throne, symbolically an inch shorter than his mother’s sovereign throne.
And in place of the queen’s usual introduction that “My Government will,” Prince Charles instead said “Her majesty’s government will …”
Yeomen of the Guard, wearing traditional uniform, walk through the Royal Gallery during the ceremonial search before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.REUTERS
Yeomen Warders perform the ceremonial search of the Palace of Westminster prior to the State Opening of Parliament.AP
The queen has only missed two previous state openings during her 70-year reign, in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with sons Andrew and Edward, respectively.
Buckingham Palace had said Monday that she had “reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament” after “consultation with her doctors” about the unspecified mobility issues.
For many royal watchers, Tuesday’s ceremony was a glimpse of the looming transition of power as the world’s eldest and longest-reigning monarch has been forced to miss a series of key engagements.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, second left, on the way to the House of Lords prior to Queen Elizabeth II delivering a speech on May 11, 2021.AP
The Times of London called it “one of the most significant moments in [Charles’] life to date” and “the nearest he has come to performing the duties he will one day undertake as king.”
It was also his son William’s first time attending the state opening in another glimpse into the royal family’s future.
Tuesday’s no-show follows a series of recent missed engagements for the queen, who recently recovered from COVID and was hospitalized for a night last October for an unspecified illness.\
A source told Reuters that the monarch’s decision to “reluctantly” skip the opening of Parliament was related to the problems she suffered last year.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, proceeds through the Royal Gallery before delivering a speech in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London.AP
While Elizabeth has continued to carry out many of her duties virtually or in person at her Windsor Castle home, her first public event since falling ill was in April, when she attended a memorial service to her late husband who died last year.
Last week it was announced she would not attend the traditional summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
To authorize Charles and William to carry out the role on her behalf, the queen had to issue a formal “Letters Patent.”
While called the Queen’s Speech, the words to be read by Charles are written by the government to set out the laws it plans to pass in the coming year.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II delivers a speech from the throne in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London in May, 2021.AP
It contained 38 pieces of legislation, including bills on education, animal welfare and “leveling up” economic opportunity to poorer regions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers, “This is a Queen’s Speech to get our country back on track and ensure that we deliver on the promises we made at the start of this parliament.”
Britain will hold four days of celebration in June to mark the queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Buckingham Palace said last week she was planning to attend most major events during the celebrations but her presence would not be confirmed until the day of.
With Post wires