Queen Elizabeth Will Not Attend Commonwealth Day Service Following COVID-19 Recovery

The 95-year-old monarch tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 20

Queen Elizabeth will miss the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday, the palace announced Friday. Her son and heir, Prince Charles, will represent her at the ceremony.

"After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, The Queen has asked The Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

"The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead," the statement continued.

PEOPLE understands that the Queen's absence from the Commonwealth Day Service is not related to illness. There were discussions surrounding the monarch's comfort when it came to her travel arrangements and attending the service.

The monarch has been using a walking cane since October and recently complained of mobility issues.

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Queen Elizabeth. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

As planned, the service will be attended by Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Kate Middleton and the Queen's first cousin, Princess Alexandra. However, the Queen's other cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, and his wife the Duchess of Gloucester will no longer attend following the Duke's positive test for COVID-19.

Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe.

The Queen, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 20, has missed a number of events in recent months due to recent health setbacks.

After canceling a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland under medical advice from her doctors, the monarch spent a night in the hospital on October 20 and was advised to rest for several weeks following.

Queen's Platinum Jewels
Queen Elizabeth. Getty

Queen Elizabeth decided not to appear at the November 14 Remembrance Day ceremony due to a sprained back. The Queen was said by a royal source to be "deeply disappointed," as she regards the moving ceremony as "one of the most significant engagements of the year."

Following her COVID-19 diagnosis last month, the palace said the Queen was "experiencing mild cold-like symptoms." She canceled several scheduled virtual meetings amid her recovery.

On March 7, the Queen participated in her first in-person engagement since she was diagnosed with COVID-19, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle.

The Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey is a highlight of the royal calendar each year. Members of the family — including Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Kate Middleton — usually attend.

The Queen has missed the Commonwealth Service before. In 2013, she was forced to cancel her appearance due to an illness.

Throughout Queen Elizabeth's 70-year reign, the Commonwealth has grown from just seven nations to 54 members. During this time, the Queen has undertaken more than 200 visits to Commonwealth countries and visited every country of the Commonwealth (with the exception of Cameroon, which joined in 1995, and Rwanda, which joined in 2009).

Prince William and Prince Harry
Commonwealth Day 2020. Phil Harris - WPA Pool/Getty Images

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The traditional gathering for Commonwealth Day was canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced with a smaller event.

In 2020, the Commonwealth Service was one of the last events the royal family attended before the pandemic prompted lockdown measures, but they were already being cautious by not shaking hands at the service.

The 2020 service was also Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's last joint appearance with the family before they stepped back from their positions as working royals and relocated to California.

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