Charles 'on standby to read Queen's Speech' if monarch is too unwell

27 March 2022, 12:08 | Updated: 27 March 2022, 12:15

Prince Charles and the Queen at the state opening of parliament three years ago
Prince Charles and the Queen at the state opening of parliament three years ago. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Prince Charles is reportedly on standby to read the Queen's Speech at the annual state opening of parliament amid concerns the monarch may not feel well enough to attend.

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Palace and government officials are said to have drawn up plans in the event health or mobility issues prevent the Queen from attending on May 10.

She has missed a number of events this year, most recently the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

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A royal source told the Sunday Times: "The date is in Her Majesty's diary, and she hopes to attend. The Queen remains fit and active, and it is amazing how much she still does.

"But her diary is being paced to reflect the realities of a woman of her age, and to ensure that she is able to continue to do as much as she can and would like to do.

"All events will now be scheduled so that if Her Majesty is unable to attend at short notice, another member of the royal family will still be present."

The 95-year-old has missed only two state openings during her reign - in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Concerns about her health were previously raised last October when she spent a night in hospital, after which she missed a string of events including last November's Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph.

The Queen then tested positive for Covid on February 20 but has since recovered after suffering mild symptoms similar to a cold.

She had only returned to something approaching normal working practices just before contracting Covid, and the Commonwealth Day service would have been her first in-person public engagement since her hospital stay.

She did return to in-person engagements earlier this month, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.