Queen last missed a Commonwealth Day service in 2013

The monarch has pulled out of attending the event on Monday.

11 March 2022

The Queen last missed a Commonwealth Day service – other than when it was not able to take place during the pandemic – nine years ago.

She pulled out of attending the event in 2013 while recovering from a nasty bout of gastroenteritis.

Before that, she had not been absent from a Commonwealth Day Observance service for 20 years, the last occasion being when she had flu in 1993.

The monarch, 95, who has just recovered from Covid, is to miss Monday’s service, Buckingham Palace announced on Friday.

The decision is understood to be based on the Queen’s comfort travelling to and from and attending the occasion, rather than due to illness.

The event usually sees the Queen, who places great importance on her role as head of the Commonwealth, join 2,000 people including high commissioners from across the globe at Westminster Abbey in central London.

Since 1977, Commonwealth Day has been celebrated every year on the second Monday in March.

In 2006, the Queen attended a Commonwealth Day service in Sydney, Australia – the first time the event was held outside the UK.

The Queen sees the Commonwealth as a “family” and takes pride in its work as “a force for good in the world”.

Although she is its symbolic head, she has no formal powers over the 54 countries and two billion citizens which make up the voluntary association.

The modern Commonwealth was established by the London Declaration of 1949, two years after India and Pakistan were granted independence.

The Duke of Edinburgh once described his wife as the “Commonwealth psychotherapist”, a nod to her informal talks with heads of government at the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The Queen is not expected to travel to the next CHOGM, having called time on her overseas visits some years ago.

The 2020 Commonwealth Day service was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in what was their final official public duty before stepping down as senior working royals.

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