Queen Elizabeth II’s widowhood symbolised by poignant detail following Prince Philip death
Queen's 'resilience' is 'hugely admirable' says expert
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Queen Elizabeth II, 95, laid out the Government’s legislative priorities for the coming months in her annual Queen’s Speech at Parliament on Tuesday. The Queen has attended State Openings of Parliament throughout her reign but this one was markedly different due to the pandemic. As well as the pared-back ceremony there was another key detail about the event that symbolised the Queen’s recent widowhood.
The death of her husband Prince Philip last month means the Queen carried out her first-ever speech in the House of Lords without the consort’s throne next to her.
While the Duke of Edinburgh retired from royal duties in 2017, the consort’s throne remained next to the Queen during her annual addresses, however this year the special chair had been removed.
The subtle change marks a historic as the elaborate seat had been in place since Edward VIII’s reign.
Writing in the Telegraph’s newsletter, royal editor and expert Camilla Tominey described the move as poignant.
She wrote: “We may have grown used to Prince Philip’s absence at major royal events since his retirement from public life in 2017.
“Yet somehow there could not have been a more poignant symbol of HM’s widowhood as she announced the Government’s legislative agenda without the consort’s throne next to her.
“For the first time since 1901, having been positioned next to the monarch’s since Edward VII’s reign, the elaborate seat had been quietly removed.”
Touching on the ceremonial elements that were stripped from this year’s State Opening of Parliament, Ms Tominey added: “A ‘reduced ceremonial occasion’ due to the fact Covid restrictions are still in place, attendance in the House of Lords was vastly decreased and everyone was required to wear face masks apart from the Queen (if only the same rules had applied at her beloved husband’s funeral).”
Ms Tominey added: “The Imperial State Crown, weighing nearly three pounds, was driven to Parliament ahead of the 95-year-old’s arrival and, instead of ceremonial robes, she wore what Buckingham Palace describes as ‘day dress’ (in this case, a lilac outfit by Angela Kelly).
“In addition, the Queen was driven from Buckingham Palace in a low-key Range Rover rather than the Bentley State Limousine, or, as is strictly traditional, the State Coach.”
While Windsor Castle has been the Queen’s main base since the start of the pandemic she made the trip to London to carry out the key engagement.
The stoic Queen was quick to get back to royal duties following the death of “strength and stay” Philip, but now in her mid-nineties, there is speculation she could pare back her workload in the coming months.
The longest-reigning monarch in British history the Queen will celebrate an extraordinary 70 years on the throne next year.
Mss Tominey added: “I know plans for next year’s Platinum Jubilee are well underway behind palace gates and the UK is understandably looking forward to a weekend of national celebration in June.
“But let’s ensure that the commemorations are entirely commensurate with the Queen’s wishes and can be something she will genuinely enjoy rather than have to endure.
“Thanks to HM’s extraordinary physical and mental wellbeing, it is all too easy to forget that this is a woman working way beyond retirement age.”
Ms Tominey added: “Now she no longer has the support of her ‘liege man of life and limb’ and ‘strength and stay all these years’, we must collectively take care of the jewel in our crown.”
Britons will get an extra bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee next spring.
Nationwide celebrations are planned to mark the important milestone.
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