Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 96th birthday
Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch, celebrated her 96th birthday with a quiet celebration at Sandringham estate.
Claire Hardwick, USA TODAY
Queen Elizabeth II will miss the opening of Parliament for just the third time in her 70 years on the British throne due to ongoing mobility issues, Buckingham Palace announced Monday.
In a statement shared to USA TODAY, the palace said the queen consulted with her doctors and “reluctantly” decided not to attend as she continues to experience episodic mobility problems.
Prince Charles will read her speech, which sets out the government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session. Prince William will also attend.
Presiding over the elaborate State Opening of Parliament and delivering the Queen’s Speech from The Sovereign’s Throne is one of the monarch’s most important roles as head-of-state. In all the years of her reign, the queen missed participating in the ceremony only twice, both while she was pregnant with her two youngest children in the 1960s.
Last week, Buckingham Palace announced the queen would miss the traditional royal garden party season, where she would normally meet with hundreds of people on the grounds of her residences in London and Edinburgh. She will be represented instead by other members of her family, a statement from the palace said.
In February, the queen tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks after Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla tested positive. The palace said the queen experienced mild, cold-like symptoms. She recovered, and has attended a handful of public events in the past few months – including a service honoring the life of her late husband, Prince Philip – while continuing to hold virtual audiences regularly.
Previous story: Queen Elizabeth II seen using a cane during Westminster Abbey service
She also spent a night in the hospital in October and only conducted light duties for several months afterward on her doctors’ orders. The palace didn’t offer any specifics on what tests were conducted during the hospital stay, but it came days after doctors recommended rest and she was seen using a cane.
She has generally enjoyed good health throughout her long life. Prior to October, she was last hospitalized in 2013, when she was 86, after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis.
The queen marked her Platinum Jubilee — 70 years on the throne — in February. Large-scale festivities to celebrate that milestone, including concerts and pageants, will take place later this month and in June.
She celebrated her 96th birthday privately last month at her Sandringham estate in eastern England. Meanwhile, the palace released a new portrait of the long-running monarch, standing between and holding the reigns of two of her fell ponies.
Contributing: Maria Puente and Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press