The Queen will miss four garden parties held this summer to thank the nation’s great and good.
Other members of the Royal family instead, he will represent the 96-year-old monarch in the three ‘annual resisters’ of the royal calendar in Buckingham palace and another at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
Her Majesty, who has mobility issues, has missed several major events this year, but has been conducting virtual engagements and other functions. Garden parties are organized for the first time in three years.
They are key events in the royal calendar in which those who have served their country or communities are invited to the monarch’s house. That Her Majesty no longer feels able to attend is not much of a surprise.
But the fact that the palace decided to announce it in a press release nearly a week before the first meeting shows how much our much-loved head of state’s life has changed since last fall, when someone I know remembers bumping into her. Majesty walking her dogs at Balmoral looking ‘full of beans’ just a few weeks before having to spend a night in hospital.
Recognition: The monarch greets guests at a 2018 garden party in Edinburgh
And a courtier I spoke to yesterday said he thought people “were looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”
“I think people should say how well Her Majesty is doing for 96 and not the other way around. We’ve gotten so used to her doing so much that I think we should start looking at the current situation more positively,” they said.
Each garden party welcomes up to 8,000 guests, from all walks of life but united by a common thread of inspiring public service, who are invited to spend a relaxing summer afternoon in the beautiful gardens eating cucumber sandwiches, fruitcake and, I can personally attest, the most amazing tiny chocolate cakes with edible gold crowns.
At 4:00 pm the Queen, always accompanied by the late Duke of Edinburgh until his retirement and more recently by the Prince of Wales or other royals, arrives on the terrace outside the Bow Room, where one of The two soldiers play the national anthem. bands that entertain the guests.
He then has to walk down ten steep steps onto the lawn before addressing the crowd, along pre-assigned “lanes”, stopping to speak to as many members of the public as possible.
Once for debutantes appearing at court, garden parties have evolved to recognize and reward the stalwarts of the community, and the Queen considers it one of her most important duties to personally thank as many as she can.
She ends up in the ‘Royal Tea Tent’ at the other end of the lawn to chat more politely as her guests wander the grounds, soaking up the atmosphere in one of the most magical times of their lives.
What about the state opening of parliament?
Queen Elizabeth II sits on the sovereign’s throne in the House of Lords chamber during the State Opening of Parliament
The Queen still plans to attend the State Opening of Parliament next Tuesday.
But there are measures to minimize the distance you would have to walk.
Her Majesty will need to walk from a car to the building and then through the Robe Room to the House of Lords.
He will then have to take three steps to his throne, from where he will deliver his speech.
Buckingham Palace has said the Queen “plans to attend” but that this will be confirmed on that day.
In total, he’s on his feet for over an hour, so as I say, it’s no surprise that he no longer feels able to attend. Could she use a golf cart, like her late mother used to, or maybe even the wheelchair she is rumored to use from time to time in private nowadays?
The answer to that is unlikely. The Queen is a proud and dignified woman, and while there is no suggestion that anyone who uses a walker is not one of those things, the Queen has never liked to make adjustments in public for the inevitable frailties of age.
And like many seniors these days, she simply finds one-on-one conversations easier than in a large crowd.
What is striking, however, is the hands-on form of the announcement, via email, as Buckingham Palace revealed the dates for this year’s parties.
It read: “Her Majesty The Queen will be represented by other members of the Royal Family at this year’s garden parties, with details of attendance to be confirmed in due course.”
The attendees openly confirmed that the format of the parties, in terms of their duration and the traditional length of stay, were “key factors” in their absence.
Even just a year ago, the slightest hint from a correspondent that the monarch might be starting to feel her age risked bringing a heap of opprobrium on their heads.
Even obvious adjustments to his schedule in recent years, such as his decision to stop wearing the heavy imperial crown for the state opening of parliament or to take the elevator instead of the stairs, came with stern warnings “not to play too much.”
Well into her eighties, Her Majesty insisted on climbing the stairs as much as possible, which resulted in a particularly awkward moment for me when I was covering an event in the City of London while heavily pregnant. We got stuck on a ladder and I