"She wishes to be alongside the Duke of Edinburgh," a royal source tells PEOPLE

Queen Elizabeth is skipping one of her most notable annual duties.

Normally the 91-year-old monarch solemnly lays down the annual tribute to Britain’s fallen soldiers on the U.K.’s Remembrance Sunday, November 12. But on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace announced that this year she will instead observe the proceedings alongside her husband Prince Philip, 96. She has asked her eldest son and heir Prince Charles to carry out the duty on her behalf.

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Queen Elizabeth laying a wreath at the Remembrance Service at The Cenotaph in 2016.
| Credit: Ray Tang/REX/Shutterstock

The Queen has only missed six opportunities to pay her respects in person with a wreath of red poppies at the central London war memorial, the Cenotaph, during her 65-year reign. Those were because she was away on tour — to Ghana in 1961, Brazil in 1968, Kenya in 1983 and South Africa in 1999 — and because she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959 and Prince Edward in 1963.

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Some see the decision as a sign of the ongoing transition toward Charles, 68, taking on more of her public roles. Explaining her decision, a royal source tells PEOPLE, “She wishes to be alongside the Duke of Edinburgh.”

The royal couple will stand on the balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where Kate Middleton, Edward’s wife Sophie Wessex and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, normally watch the event below.

Kate, Camilla and Sophie (from left) at the Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph in 2016.
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The source explained that the Queen will still meet political leaders after the ceremony and attend the other weekend events, such as the Royal Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 11. Philip is not expected to attend that.

Meanwhile, Army veteran Prince Harry will visit the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on November 9 – an occasion he has been sharing with his grandfather Prince Philip in recent years.