Absent queen delivers Commonwealth Day message

Queen Elizabeth II on Monday called on the Commonwealth to show unity in troubled times, as she sat out a major event for the organisation after a period of fragile health.

The event with some 1,500 guests at Westminster Abbey in central London had been due to be the 95-year-old monarch’s first large-scale public engagement in nearly six months.

But she withdrew on Friday, raising questions about the extent of her participation in future events to mark her record-breaking 70th year on the throne.

British media said palace officials had concerns for her comfort travelling to and from the service, and its duration. The queen turns 96 next month.

She has previously been seen with a walking stick and pulled out of one event last November with a bad back. She has also been overheard complaining about mobility problems.

The Sun newspaper on Saturday said she had been unable to walk her beloved corgis for the last six months while the Daily Mail said she had ruled out using a wheelchair at the service.

The next major event she is due at is the memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last April aged 99 and whose funeral was held under Covid restrictions.

Despite her absence on Monday, the queen sent a message to representatives of the 54-nation grouping of mainly former British colonies that she heads.

She notably renewed her pledge of lifelong service to the organisation that she made as a young princess back in 1947, calling it the “family of nations”.

Its role — as “a place to come together to pursue common goals and the common good, providing everyone with the opportunity to serve and benefit” — was more important than ever in the world, she said.

“In these testing times, it is my hope that you can draw strength and inspiration from what we share, as we work together towards a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all,” she added.

Source: Today.ng.