Elizabeth II has only missed the official opening of Parliament twice before in her 70-year reign, both times because she was pregnant.
What is clear is that the episodes are becoming more frequent and disruptive. The Queen continues to cancel engagements at the last minute, and that now includes those that were previously set in stone in her diary.
The opening of the new parliamentary session is a key constitutional responsibility of the British monarch. It cannot be done without it, just like the signing of parliamentary bills and the appointment of new prime ministers. While her role is purely ceremonial, and she only acts on the advice of ministers, British democracy would seize up overnight without her.
Fortunately, safeguards are in place. The Queen has issued a legal notice known as the Letters Patent to authorize Prince Charles and Prince William to open Parliament on her behalf. It is fortunate that they are available, as the other two replacement options under the current system are Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, who have given up or been stripped of their royal responsibilities.
The Queen was able to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show – one of her favorite events – on Friday and was pictured smiling as she arrived. Nonetheless, while no one doubts Elizabeth’s commitment to duty and service, the reality is that she can only be firmly committed to working from home for the time being.
This inevitably raises the role and profile of Prince Charles, alongside that of Prince William. The two will now have to prioritize the queen’s diary over their own.
There is no suggestion that the queen abdicate and hand over the crown permanently to Charles, nor that he become regent, which means making him monarch without the title. But both princes have been activated as Councilors of State, where the Queen delegates her sovereign power for specific purposes. They must now be even more available for these tasks.
Charles has already juggled a busy week of commitments alongside the opening of Parliament. He hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace and appeared at Oxford University, London’s Canada House and a sneaker shop in south London in the three days following his visit at Westminster, indicating his burgeoning workload.
But he is the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history, and there is no doubt he has the experience to take on a full royal agenda.
The more we see him do, the more familiar we will be with him in this role. It’s the mechanism that prepares us for the next monarch and reduces the culture shock some will feel when it happens. Charles may not be as beloved by the public as his mother right now, but we won’t really know how accepted he will be as a monarch until he becomes king.
Royal sources suggest we won’t know for sure until much later, and probably only on the day of each event. In the meantime, organizers are keeping their fingers crossed and trying to organize her scheduled public appearances in a way that minimizes the need for her to exert herself.
People will understand if she can only be there in spirit – but it will add a touch of sadness to events if the Queen cannot enjoy it in person.
WHAT ELSE HAPPENS?
The garden parties return in the rain.
Buckingham Palace held its first garden party in three years on Wednesday, and the return of a long-standing British tradition met another: bad weather. But the rain didn’t seem to deter the guests, thousands of whom are invited to the palace every year to celebrate their work in their communities. The Queen is not attending this year’s round due to mobility issues, so Prince Charles and Camilla took her place and mingled with the attendees. The pandemic has caused parties to be canceled in each of the past two years, but they remain an important part of the royal calendar.
Meghan is asking for more childcare allowance.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has made calls for businesses to expand their childcare arrangements for working mothers. The Duchess has teamed up with Marshall Plan for Moms, a group that lobbies US companies to improve their arrangements with employees. Meghan said in a press release that the pandemic has given working mothers “increased caregiving responsibilities, rising prices and economic uncertainty”. The mother-of-two added: “It takes a village to raise a child…creating a stronger workforce starts with meeting the needs of families.”
William opens the Manchester bombing memorial.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex traveled to Manchester, northern England, to open a memorial to the victims of a 2017 terror attack that shocked the country. A total of 22 people died when a bomb exploded during an Ariana Grande concert at the city’s main concert hall. William said that “as someone who lives with their own grief” it is important to remember the victims. “It was an attack at a music night. And it happened in a city that has given the world so many songs to sing,” he said.
DID YOU KNOW?
A new dessert for the Queen’s Jubilee.
A hobby baker has won a TV competition to create a brand new dessert in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee.
Jemma Melvin, a 31-year-old editor from England, invented a lemon Swiss roll and an amaretti trifle – a concoction that won the BBC’s Jubilee Pudding competition.
People will now be encouraged to recreate the dessert during a day of street parties and community events on June 5.
“The idea of people recreating my pudding, especially around Jubilee, is just total fun,” Melvin said on Thursday’s show.
The competition is part of the tradition of inventing new dishes for the great royal stages. The Jubilee Chicken was invented for George V in 1935, and an updated version was made for the Queen in 2002. The Victoria Sponge was named after Queen Victoria, who reportedly enjoyed a slice of cake every after -noon with his tea.
But perhaps the most famous achievement is the Coronation Chicken, a combination of cold chicken pieces, curry powder and mayonnaise prepared for the new queen in 1953 and still common in Britain today.
Cancer activist Deborah James was awarded the title of Dame.
The Queen has endorsed a femininity for British podcaster Deborah James, whose experience of living with bowel cancer has captured the imagination of listeners across the country.
James, 40, used his “You, Me and the Big C” podcast to raise awareness about the reality of living with cancer. She revealed on Monday that she has moved into palliative care and has raised £4m ($4.9m) for Cancer Research UK since then.
“Every once in a while someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life and their tenacious desire to give back to society. @bowelbabe is one of those special people,” William and Kate wrote on Twitter this week, using James’ online handle.
“His tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer and end the stigma of treatment are inspiring,” the couple said, adding that they donated to James’ appeal.
On Thursday, Downing Street confirmed she would be getting a femininity. These are usually awarded at the end of the year, but in special circumstances they are announced early – such as the knighthood given to Covid-19 fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died in the turned 100 last year.
OF THE ROYAL VAULT
A collection of the Queen’s Jewels will be on display this summer at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in honor of the Platinum Jubilee.
Each exhibit will showcase a momentous occasion from the Queen’s 70-year reign. A particularly magnificent piece to cut is the Diamond Diadem, created for the coronation of George IV in 1821.
The tiara was passed down to the Queen, who wore it at her own coronation, according to the Royal Collection Trust.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace – where the tiara will be on display – will also show the Queen’s official portraits taken by Dorothy Wilding and the other pieces worn for their seances.
The discerning public will recognize the Wilding portrait tiara that inspired the postage stamps used between 1953 and 1971.
Other jewels on display include the Queen’s brooches depicting the crests of Commonwealth countries, worn on state visits, such as Australia’s Wattle brooch.
Outfits the Queen wore in previous jubilees can also be seen at royal residences during the exhibition, which opens in July.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
Prince William keeps an eye on the wheel while trying his hand at badminton during a visit to Birmingham last Friday.
CNN’s Hafsa Khalil contributed to this article.