Prince Charles's historic Speech for absent monarch

Prince Charles’s historic Speech for absent monarch: Heir to the throne looked deeply moved as he delivered Queen’s Speech for first time, writes REBECCA ENGLISH

  • The Prince of Wales read his mothers speech in the House of Lords today
  • He marked the State Opening of Parliament and sat at the Queen’s consort chair
  • The Queen has missed the ceremony only twice in her reign in 1959 and 1963, both whilst pregnant,  when the speech was read by the then Lord Chancellor 
  • She watched from Windsor as her crown, sword and cap represented her
  • On either side of Charles were William and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales appeared deeply moved as he delivered the Queen’s Speech for the first time yesterday.

The heir to the throne, resplendent in his Royal Navy uniform, was seen staring intently at his mother’s crown which was symbolically laid on a table in place of her throne.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales reads the Queen’s Speech as he sits by the Imperial State Crown, in the House of Lords chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament, at the Houses of Parliament, in London today

In an 11th-hour decision, Buckingham Palace announced on Monday that the Queen had ‘reluctantly’ decided to pull out of this year’s State Opening of Parliament due to ongoing mobility problems.

Instead, she watched the proceedings on television from Windsor as her son took on one of her most significant constitutional duties.

She had previously missed the ceremony only twice in her reign – in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively – when the speech was read by the then Lord Chancellor.

This time, she took legal steps – issuing what is known as Letters Patent – to give Charles and the Duke of Cambridge power to conduct the ceremony on her behalf.

The event marked a significant shift in their responsibilities as a future monarch and Prince of Wales – and many viewed their presence in the House of Lords together as a poignant symbol of things to come.

The 73-year-old prince sat not on the sovereign’s throne but on the consort’s, which used to be occupied by the Duke of Edinburgh and which Charles has used in recent years.

A space remained next to him, where the Queen’s missing throne is usually placed, with the monarch’s Imperial State Crown in front on a velvet cushion.

It was taken to the House of Lords, along with other royal regalia – namely the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance – to represent the Queen.

On either side of Charles were William, who was attending for the first time, and the Duchess of Cornwall in an elegant navy coat and hat. The heir to the throne delivered the speech in the third person, using ‘Her Majesty’s Government’.

Less than 24 hours before the event, Buckingham Palace were still saying that the Queen ‘hoped’ to attend.

But there was no doubt that the high-profile ceremony would have been physically gruelling for her, despite steps being taken to minimise her need to walk.

Her Majesty has taken the lift into the building since 2016 and officials had discreetly discussed a private ‘wheelchair-friendly route’. 

However, she would still have been required to walk into the chamber and deliver a lengthy public address.

It is understood that she has no new symptoms but is continuing to experience what officials describe as ‘episodic mobility problems’ that have dogged her since last year.

Aides stressed that, contrary to speculation, the decision not to attend had only been taken at the last minute. 

However contingency plans had long been put in place just in case.

They also stressed that the Queen has a ‘busy diary’ this week including a call with Australia yesterday, a planned ‘virtual’ Privy Council meeting and her weekly audience with Boris Johnson tomorrow by phone.

She is also expected to undertake some private engagements later in the week, attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show for a jubilee event in her honour on Sunday night.

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