Prince Charles was due Tuesday to formally open Britain’s Parliament for the first time 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 was set to deliver the Queen’s Speech at the formal opening because his monarch mother was forced to skip it due to “episodic mobility problems,” Buckingham Palace had confirmed Monday.

The palace said that “in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament.”

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.

“At Her Majesty’s request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read the queen’s speech on Her Majesty’s behalf,” the palace said of Charles, the 73-year-old heir to the throne.

He will be supported at the grand set-piece ceremony by his eldest son, Prince William, 39, who is also destined to be a future king as second in line to the throne.

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.

Tuesday’s no-show follows a series of recent missed engagements for the world’s eldest and longest-reigning monarch 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 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

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.”

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “fully respects the wishes of Her Majesty and is grateful to the Prince of Wales for agreeing to deliver the speech on her behalf.”

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 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.

It is expected to contain 38 pieces of legislation, including bills on education, animal welfare and “leveling up” economic opportunity to poorer regions.

The State Opening of Parliament is an event of huge pomp and pageantry which traditionally sees the queen traveling to the assembly in a State Coach, escorted by mounted soldiers in ceremonial uniform, while the Imperial State Crown and other regalia travel ahead in a carriage of their own.

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

The monarch puts on the Robe of State before leading a procession to the House of Lords upper chamber where she sits on a throne and formally opens a new session of parliament, reading a speech outlining the government’s legislative plans.

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

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