The Queen, 95, will be accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to the scaled-back ceremony at the House of Lords on Tuesday

By Simon Perry
May 10, 2021 01:00 PM
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Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth at the State Opening of Parliament on October 14, 2019
| Credit: Toby Melville - WPA Pool / Getty

Queen Elizabeth is making her first official engagement outside of Windsor Castle since the death of her beloved husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, to take part in one of her most important constitutional duties.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth, 95, will attend the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster. She will be accompanied by her son and heir, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

It will be a scaled-back occasion, lacking much of the pomp and ceremony of usual times. She will not be in full regalia of state, will wear day dress and a hat and will be driven by car from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament rather than making her way in a carriage.

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But her Imperial State Crown, the symbol of her position as monarch, will be brought to the chamber separately and placed next to her on a table, as has been the case in recent years (it weighs a whopping 2.3 lbs!).

The Imperial State Crown
The imperial State Crown
| Credit: TOBY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty

The State Opening of Parliament is a key moment in the political and constitutional calendar as it sees the Sovereign, as head of state, outline the main legislation that the serving U.K. Government (led currently by Prime Minister Boris Johnson) wishes to introduce over the coming months.

And with COVID-19 in mind, there will also be fewer lawmakers and staffers in the Palace of Westminster to hear the Queen's Speech.   

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Charles, 72, and Camilla, 73, have accompanied the Queen to the formal ceremony before, but Tuesday's event will take on a new significance as it will clearly underline how the senior royals are stepping in to be alongside her at key moments in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh's death.

queen elizabeth II and prince charles
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles
| Credit: Aaron Chown/AFP/Getty

With the official period of mourning for Prince Philip, who died on April 9, over, the Queen has been returning to her royal duties. Last week, she carried out audiences and meetings via phone with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and took part in a video call recalling her pride as a 14-year-old at winning a special award in water safety training.