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Royal aides are said to be taking a ‘bookend’ approach to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations as they prioritise getting the monarch on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Sunday’s show-stopping finale pageant.
It comes after the 96-year-old head of state was forced to pull out of two key events after suffering ‘discomfort’ related to her mobility issues – Friday’s thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral and Saturday’s Epsom Derby.
The Queen has been forced to cancel a string of engagements in recent months and most recently missed the State Opening of Parliament in May. Her son, Prince Charles, and grandson, Prince William, stood in for her.
A senior royal source told the Daily Mail that while the Queen enjoyed the opening day of festivities ‘immensely’, the ‘episodic mobility issues’ she had suffered since last autumn ‘were experienced during the course of the day’.
Royal aides stressed that it had always been Her Majesty’s ‘hope’ to attend rather than a firm commitment.
Buckingham Palace said it will confirm whether she will attend other events over the next two days as soon as possible.
It is thought royal aides may be trying to help her rest to ensure she will be able to make an appearance at Sunday’s closing Platinum Jubilee Pageant.
‘It seems the palace are taking a ‘book-end’ approach, allowing her to attend at the start and finish without taxing her too much in between,’ a source said.
It is thought royal aides may be trying to help the Queen rest to ensure she will be able to make an appearance at Sunday’s closing Platinum Jubilee Pageant. (Pictured: Queen on balcony on Thursday)
Royal aides are said to be taking a ‘bookend’ approach to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations as they prioritise getting the monarch on the Buckingham Palace balcony for Sunday’s show-stopping finale pageant. (Pictured Thursday at Buckingham Palace, from left: Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William and Sophie, Countess of Wessex)
The Queen will not attend the Epsom Derby Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced. The news came after Her Majesty was forced to pull out of Friday’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral
The head of state is a passionate horse owner and breeder and would have been looking forward to seeing her horse running on Saturday during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Above: Hukum ridden by Jim Crowley wins the Dahlbury Coronation Cup on Ladies Day during the Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 at Epsom Racecourse today
The news comes after Her Majesty was forced to pull out of today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, with Buckingham Palace saying she was suffering from ‘discomfort’ following her appearances yesterday. Above: Her Majesty during yesterday’s flypast
The Queen approaches the Commonwealth Nations Globe to start the lighting ceremony at Windsor Castle on Thursday evening, despite suffering from ‘discomfort’
As the sovereign placed her finger on the globe, bright white lights raced along the Quadrangle towards Windsor’s famous Round Tower
Her Majesty, pictured here reviewing mounted troops at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, has a well known love of horses
On Thursday it emerged that the Duke of York, who has had contact with the Queen recently, had Covid, meaning he would be a no-show at any future Jubilee event.
On Friday, the Duchess of Cambridge revealed that the Queen had a ‘lovely’ time at the opening Platinum Jubilee celebrations, but had found the day ‘very tiring’.
Her Majesty made three memorable public appearances on Thursday, including the lighting of the Principal Platinum Jubilee Beacon ceremony at Windsor Castle, but had experienced ‘some discomfort’.
Her attendance at the Epsom Derby had been considered one of the high spots of the weekend’s events, particularly for royal herself.
It is the only one of the ‘classics’ she has never won in her long career as a racehorse owner.
The Jockey Club had spent the past few months making extensive plans to facilitate her attendance, including allowing her car to drive right up the course and pull up outside the Queen Elizabeth stand where the Royal Box is located.
But on Friday afternoon Buckingham Palace announced that she had decided not to attend, and would instead watch the racing on television at Windsor Castle.
Princess Anne is now expected to represent her mother at Epsom and is likely to be accompanied by her family.
No other senior royals will be there as many have engagements on behalf of the Queen elsewhere or will be preparing for Saturday night’s Party at the Palace concert.
Phil White, London regional director for The Jockey Club, said: ‘It is a rare occasion that the Queen is unable to join us at Epsom, but we are delighted she plans to enjoy Derby Day on television.
‘We have big plans to celebrate Her Majesty’s contribution to horseracing and the nation, and these will continue in full.’
The plans include many of the Queen’s former jockeys, such as Willie Carson, forming a guard of honour in her distinctive racing silks.
Friday’s service at St Paul’s was attended by more than 2,000 guests, including senior royals and politicians.
Harry and Meghan Markle were kept apart from Prince William, Kate, Prince Charles and Camilla, with royal aides ensuring they sat on the other side of the aisle – and they later left separately.
Straight afterwards, Charles, Camilla, William and Kate arrived for a reception the nearby Guildhall.
The Duchess of Cambridge is said to have told an attendee the Queen is ‘fine’ but had found the day ‘very tiring’.
Gill Smallwood, from Bolton, spoke with Kate and asked how the Queen was doing.
Ms Smallwood said of the conversation: ‘She [Kate] said ‘yes, she was fine, it was just very tiring yesterday, and she (the Queen) had had a lovely, lovely time’.’
Buckingham Palace officials took great care to try to avoid a repeat of the frosty scenes when the Sussexes and Cambridges sat near each other and left together at their last joint event in March 2020 at Westminster Abbey.
And aides would have been delighted that today’s service passed without any such incident or negative ‘optics’ given the attempts to ensure today was about the Queen and her 70-year reign.
The Queen smiles as Prince Louis covers his ears during the flypast over Buckingham Palace in London on Thursday afternoon
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St Paul’s Cathedral (left) and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Guildhall (right) on Friday
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Friday morning, with the Queen noticeably absent
Prince Harry and Meghan arrive to attend a Service of Thanksgiving for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II
Prince Charles and Camilla speak with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral Friday
The announcement about Her Majesty missing the Epsom Derby is the latest sign of the problems caused by the monarch’s advancing age.
In May, she was forced to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, due to what her spokesman described as ‘episodic mobility problems’ which they said she was continuing to experience.
The only other times she had missed the hugely important occasion were in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
In her place, Prince Charles, who was accompanied by Prince William, read her speech for the first time as the Queen watched on TV from Windsor Castle, but the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords remained symbolically empty.
It came after she had to skip the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in mid-March due to her physical struggles and also did not attend the traditional Maundy Thursday service at Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s health took a turn for the worse after her husband Prince Philip’s death last April.
In October 2021 – after working ten of the previous 20 days – she spent a rare night in hospital that forced her to miss a visit to Northern Ireland.
But she was back at her desk within hours of being discharged, despite having to cancel an appearance at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
In February, she tested positive for Covid-19 which prompted her to cancel a series of engagements, including virtual audiences. She suffered from what were described as ‘mild, cold-like symptoms’.
The Queen, who in recent weeks has used a walking stick – including at yesterday’s events – was told by doctors to rest for three months.
She gave a hint about her health when she remarked during an audience at Windsor Castle in February: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’
She later admitted that covid had left her exhausted.
Her Majesty’s hopes of winning on Epsom Derby day have already come to an end after her only runner was pulled out of a race.
Just Fine had been entered to feature in the penultimate race, the World Pool Northern Dancer Handicap, staged over the full Derby course and distance of one mile and four furlongs.
However, it was removed at Thursday’s 48-hour declaration stage.
In May, her horse Reach For The Moon, who was among the favourites, and two others were withdrawn.
The Jockey Club announced the three thoroughbreds were among a large number who had been ‘scratched’ from the entry list.
Thoroughbreds owned by the Queen have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger – with only the Derby eluding her.
Phil White, London regional director for The Jockey Club, said today: ‘We would like to wish Her Majesty The Queen a wonderful Platinum Jubilee.
‘It is a rare occasion that the Queen is unable to join us at Epsom Downs but we are delighted she plans to enjoy Derby Day on television.
‘We have big plans to celebrate Her Majesty’s contribution to horseracing and the nation, and these will continue in full tomorrow.
‘The Derby is a unique race and we are looking forward to welcoming people in their thousands to help us create a spectacular carnival atmosphere.’