Queen gives yet another sign she's handing over responsibility to Prince Charles, says Cameron Walker

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Prince Charles will represent the Queen at today's Royal Maundy Service for the first time

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Today, Her Majesty The Queen is missing the annual Royal Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

It is a very important event in the royal calendar and it is a decision the Queen would not have taken lightly.

For the first time her son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, will represent her.

He will be accompanied by his wife, Camilla.

I understand the Queen was keen for the service to be confirmed ahead of time to avoid any misunderstanding or risk of overshadowing the event on the day.

The Queen during a video link call last week
The Queen during a video link call last week
The Queen, sat next to Prince Charles, during Prince Philip's memorial service
The Queen, sat next to Prince Charles, during Prince Philip's memorial service

We know the Queen has had mobility problems in recent months, and frequently uses a walking stick.

She also told two senior military officials: "As you can see, I can’t move."

Perhaps it would have been difficult for Her Majesty to predict how agile she would be on the day.

I also understand the orders of service needed to be printed, and the Queen was keen all recipients were aware ahead of time which member of the Royal Family would be presenting them with Maundy money.

If Her Majesty pulled out of the Royal Maundy Service last-minute, the narrative would inevitably focus on the Queen’s health – something, perhaps, she was keen to avoid.

But this is yet another sign that the Queen is handing over more responsibility to younger generations.

She spent a night in hospital in October 2021 for what Buckingham Palace called “preliminary investigations”.

The Queen also pulled out of the Commonwealth Day Service.

Despite her age, Her Majesty continues with more manageable royal duties.

She undertook a virtual visit to the Royal London Hospital last week to mark the official opening of the Queen Elizabeth Unit – one of the largest critical care units in the country.

Buckingham Palace usually keeps our monarch’s medical details private, but the Queen decided to share own experience of a disease which has affected so many others across Britain.

She told a former coronavirus patient the disease left her feeling “tired and exhausted”.

The Queen with her beloved Prince Philip
The Queen with her beloved Prince Philip
The Queen during 2019's Royal Maundy Service
The Queen during 2019's Royal Maundy Service

For someone who turns 96 this month, a bout of Covid-19 could have been a lot worse.

The Queen was also strong enough to hold virtual audiences with two foreign ambassadors who presented her with Letters of Credence.

But palace courtiers continue to make small adjustments so the Queen is as comfortable as possible when she attends public events.

At the Duke of Edinburgh’s Service of Thanksgiving last month, Her Majesty entered Westminster Abbey via Poet’s Corner – a much shorter walk to her seat.

Her car pulled up as close to the building as possible, far away from the chasm of camera lenses, before she was chaperoned down the aisle by her son, Prince Andrew.

The service for her late husband of 73 years is an event she would have been determined to attend. Her Majesty succeeded.

Now, the challenge for the Queen and her advisors is choosing which public engagements to prioritise.

Perhaps their focus is making sure Her Majesty is well enough to attend the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.