Queen Elizabeth missed this year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony, which honors fallen British combatants, due to a sprained back, the BBC reported. The 95-year-old monarch was “disappointed” to be absent after it was her “firm intention” to attend as recently as Saturday, according to a Buckingham Palace statement. At the beginning of November, her physicians had advised her to rest after some health challenges and not carry out official duties for two weeks. The latest news dashed hopes that she might be able to swiftly return to her subjects.
The injury comes after the Queen’s first public use of a cane in 17 years, a canceled trip to Northern Ireland, a one-night stay in a hospital, and her decision to skip the Glasgow climate change conference. It is unclear how she sprained her back. However, a Palace source told Reuters it’s not connected to the unnamed ailment that initiated her hospital stay and is merely an “incredibly unfortunate coincidence.” Photos emerged earlier this month of the Queen driving at her Windsor estate after doctors told her to take it easy.
Remembrance Sunday is held on the closest Sunday to Nov. 11, which is Remembrance Day in the U.K. and Veterans Day in the U.S.A. Both have their origins in Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of the First World War.
On the Queen’s behalf, Prince Charles laid a wreath at the Cenotaph as part of the ceremony. The Cenotaph, initially a World War I memorial erected in its current form in 1920, is on Whitehall in Westminster, steps from 10 Downing Street. Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as other Royals, were in attendance.
The Guardian wrote that 10,000 veterans marched past the Cenotaph observed by “large crowds” and that “only the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds could be heard” during a commemorative two minutes of silence. The BBC’s Royal correspondent called the Queen’s absence “a blow to the many who had hoped to see the Queen after a fortnight of rest, and without doubt a blow to the Queen herself.”
However, in her 69 years on the throne, the Queen has missed only seven Remembrance ceremonies, due to pregnancy or traveling abroad. Last year, because of COVID-19, the ceremony was scaled down, but the Queen still attended, observing from a balcony.
Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in the U.K. by a substantial margin. In less than three years, she will surpass the reign of Louis XIV of France.
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