LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II missed out on the Remembrance Sunday service in London to pay tribute to Britain’s war dead because she sprained her back, Buckingham Palace said Sunday.
The service is one of the most important events on the 95-year-old monarch’s calendar, and was meant to be her first public appearance after taking a few weeks off to rest under doctor’s orders.
British media stated that it was unlikely that the back injury could be related to recent advice from a doctor to take a break.
“The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph,” officials said just hours ahead of the ceremony. “Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service.”
After being admitted to London for medical testing, the queen spent last night at a London hospital. This was the first time she had ever stayed in a hospital for a night after being admitted to medical tests. The palace informed her that doctors had told her to take a rest for 2 weeks before she could resume light duty.
However, she cancelled plans to attend U.N.’s climate summit in Glasgow. She sent a message via video.
But officials stressed at the time that “it remains the queen’s firm intention” to be present for the national Remembrance Sunday service. Buckingham Palace confirmed that on Thursday the monarch intended to view the Cenotaph war monument in central London, from her balcony. She has done so for the past several years.
The queen served in World War II as an army driver and mechanic, and is head of Britain’s armed forces. Remembrance Sunday to her is an important day. This solemn service commemorates the sacrifices of fallen military personnel and women. Following Armistice Day, Nov. 11, the national service is marked with poppies being worn and a two minute silence at 11:11 a.m.
On Sunday, other royals and politicians led the ceremony in London’s Whitehall, with hundreds of military personnel and veterans lined up around the Cenotaph memorial. The event was the first to resume normality since the start of the pandemic.
After Royal Marine buglers sounded the “The Last Post,” Prince Charles, 73, laid the first wreath on the queen’s behalf, as he has done since 2017. Other royals followed him, as well as Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
During her time of rest, she continued to work at home doing desk-based duties. She has spent most of the time at Windsor Castle, west of London, although she made a weekend visit to Sandringham, the royal family’s eastern England estate.
She also missed the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday at the Royal Albert Hall. Officials also said she will miss the opening of the Church of England’s governing General Synod on Tuesday.
Penny Junor is a royal biographer who said that the queen might be moving into a new stage of her reign, where she won’t be as visible in public.
“It’s very sad for the queen, because this is the one event in the year that she really, really likes to be at,” she said. “We’re so used to seeing her out and about and looking years younger than she is that I think we’ve been lulled into thinking she can go on at this kind of pace forever. Clearly she can’t.”
Britain’s longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch, Elizabeth is due to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee — 70 years on the throne — next year.