The Queen to miss service of thanksgiving after suffering discomfort

The Queen, who enjoying Trooping the Colour and a flypast on Thursday, has decided not to make the journey to St Paul’s on Friday - Karwai Tang/WireImage
The Queen, who enjoying Trooping the Colour and a flypast on Thursday, has decided not to make the journey to St Paul’s on Friday - Karwai Tang/WireImage

The Queen on Thursday night announced “with great reluctance” that she will not attend a St Paul’s Cathedral service of thanksgiving celebrating her reign after suffering discomfort during the first day of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Despite “immensely” enjoying Trooping the Colour and a spectacular flypast, the 96-year-old monarch has decided that the journey to St Paul’s and the length of the service would make it too difficult to attend.

The last-minute decision was announced by Buckingham Palace after a day of celebrations, with the Queen taking a salute from the balcony of the palace and standing for the flypast by the Armed Forces.

Hours afterwards, a spokesman said: “The Queen greatly enjoyed Thursday’s Birthday Parade and flypast, but did experience some discomfort.

“Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in the national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty with great reluctance has concluded that she will not attend.

“The Queen is looking forward to participating in Thursday night’s beacon-lighting event at Windsor Castle and would like to thank all those who made today such a memorable occasion.”

A source added that, while Her Majesty had “immensely” enjoyed the first day of jubilee celebrations, she had also experienced the return of the episodic mobility problems from which she has suffered recently.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile events the Queen has pulled out of for mobility reasons, following the State Opening of Parliament, the Maundy Day church service and the Commonwealth Day service.

Last year, she was unable to attend the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday or Cop26, and has recently brought an end to her hosting of garden parties.

Concessions to the monarch’s mobility problems had already been made during the jubilee weekend, including not taking the Trooping the Colour salute at Horse Guards Parade.

However, she also recently used a golf buggy to visit the Chelsea Flower Show and unexpectedly opened the Elizabeth Line in person, raising hopes that she would be able to enjoy more of the jubilee than the palace had let on.

Thursday night’s decision, described as “regrettable but sensible”, was taken because of the length of the journey and the service, which starts at 11.30am and runs for around an hour, taking into account a procession to depart.

The Queen is not confirmed to be at any further events in the jubilee weekend, but may yet delight the public with an appearance or two. It is hoped she will be able to take part in a grand finale after the pageant on Sunday, likely to be on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

The palace had already announced that the Duke of York would miss the service after testing positive for Covid. The Duke, who has seen the Queen in the last few days, was found to have the virus after a routine test on Thursday.

It means he has pulled out of his only planned public appearance of the jubilee celebrations.

Despite stepping down as a working member of the family over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal before he made a financial settlement with Virginia Giuffre over allegations of sex abuse, he had intended to be at the service because it was deemed a private event.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “After undertaking a routine test, the Duke has tested positive for Covid, and with regret will no longer be attending Friday’s service.”

The service will go ahead in full in the presence of the remainder of the Royal family. The Prince of Wales, who had been due to accompany the Queen in a short procession to her seat, will instead represent her.

The Prince, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be the only members of the Royal family in the procession, with the Wessexes, Sussexes and Princess Royal arriving earlier to take their seats along with the Queen’s wider family.

A spokesman for the Sussexes confirmed that they will be in attendance. It is expected to be their only public engagement of the Jubilee and will be the first time the Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex have appeared together in public since the Commonwealth Day service of 2020.

The Queen had always been intended to be at the service, with concessions made to take into account her reduced mobility. She had been due to travel by car instead of carriage and to use the South Door entrance rather than the West Steps, reducing the length of the walk to her seat in front of the cameras.

The service will include a new anthem, written especially for the Platinum Jubilee, and a declaration from young people in the Queen’s Realms that they will work to emulate her qualities in their own lives.

The pews will be filled with people honoured for their public service, including members of the Armed Forces, charity volunteers, teachers, and NHS workers.

Guests have been drawn from the recipients of the Queen’s Birthday and New Year Honours, and many were selected for their work during the Covid pandemic.

Boris Johnson will give a reading, with former prime ministers, members of the Cabinet and the Opposition and diplomats from around the Commonwealth in the congregation alongside a “large number of representatives of world faiths”.

The sermon will be given by Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, after the Archbishop of Canterbury fell ill with Covid and pneumonia.

The service, consisting almost entirely of readings and music, will include an almost-imperceptible nod to the Duke of Edinburgh, with sea holly, previously used to represent his naval career, in the flower arrangements.