Garden Parties at the Palace Are Back — But Queen Elizabeth Announces She Won't Be Attending

The Queen will be represented by other members of the royal family at this year's garden parties — with three taking place at Buckingham Palace and one at Holyroodhouse in Scotland

Royal Garden Party
Queen Elizabeth at 2019 Garden Party. Photo: Press Association via AP Images

Queen Elizabeth will miss one of the royal highlights of the spring.

Buckingham Palace announced that garden parties will return this month after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the 96-year-old monarch will not attend the events. She will be represented by other members of the royal family instead.

Three events will take place at Buckingham Palace in May — on the 11th, 18th and 25th — with a fourth garden party being held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, on June 29. The Queen has also given permission for The Not Forgotten Association Annual Garden Party to be hosted by Princess Anne, the charity's Patron, in the Buckingham Palace gardens on May 12.

Garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s as a way for the monarch to recognize public service. Around 30,000 people — dressed to the nines, with men in morning suits and top hats and women in whimsical fascinators — attend the events, which celebrate all areas of public life and British society. In addition to mingling with members of the royal family, guests are treated to tea and cake. (According to the royal family's website, around 27,000 cups of tea are served and 20,000 slices of cakes are consumed!)

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth attends a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in 2019. PA Images/Sipa

The Queen has been absent from a number of public outings in recent months amid a series of health setbacks and mobility issues. The garden parties would require the monarch to be on her feet for a long duration to greet attendees on the lawn.

In addition to stepping out on March 29 to attend a Service of Thanksgiving honoring Prince Philip, the Queen had her first in-person engagement at Windsor Castle following a week at her Sandringham estate to celebrate her 96th birthday.

She welcomed Switzerland's President Ignazio Cassis and his wife Paola Cassis, going without the walking cane she's used for several months for the audience. Wearing a blue patterned dress and her signature three-strand pearl necklace, the Queen was all smiles as she shook hands and posed for photos with her guests.

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Queen Elizabeth hasn't hosted a garden party since 2019 due to the pandemic. The last time the event was at Buckingham Palace, her primary royal residence in London, the monarch was joined by three of her grandchildren: Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

Kate Middleton and Prince William have also attended several garden parties over the years.

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