Prince Charles Gives the Queen's Speech for First Time at Opening of Parliament After Monarch Bows Out

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R) sits by the The Imperial State Crown (L) in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R) sits by the The Imperial State Crown (L) in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament

BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Prince Charles

Prince Charles is making history.

By special order of his mother Queen Elizabeth, the Prince of Wales stepped in to undertake the important duty of giving the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday. The Queen, 96, was unable to attend amid ongoing mobility issues.

With his son, Prince William, in attendance for the first time, Charles carried out the duty that his mother has done all but two times in her 70-year reign. Charles has accompanied his mother the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament, but Tuesday marked the first time that he — along with his son William — represented the monarch in her absence.

Charles' wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was also in attendance at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London.

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On Monday, Buckingham Palace announced that the monarch had issued what's known as a Letters Patent to delegate the task to her son and grandson, her two immediate heirs.

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2nd R) sits by the The Imperial State Crown (2nd L) with Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) and Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2nd R) sits by the The Imperial State Crown (2nd L) with Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L) and Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament

BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Prince William, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Her ongoing "mobility problems" made it difficult for the Queen to commit to the outing. The two princes are Counsellors of State and are two of only four people she could ask to perform the constitutional duty.

"The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow," Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Monday.

The Imperial State Crown arrives at the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster
The Imperial State Crown arrives at the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster

HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images The Imperial State Crown arrives at the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, at the Palace of Westminster

"At Her Majesty's request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read The Queen's speech on Her Majesty's behalf, with The Duke of Cambridge also in attendance," the statement concluded.

While Queen Elizabeth wasn't there, the Imperial State Crown was still present. The historic crown, which symbolizes the sovereignty of the monarch and is only seen at coronations and state openings of Parliament, was placed on a red velvet cushion to the right of Charles. The Queen has stopped wearing the heavy crown in recent years (it weighs over two pounds), and instead has it seated next to her during the ceremony.

Charles took his place on Consort's Throne — the Sovereign's Throne, which is slightly taller and used by the Queen, had been removed.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, sits by the Imperial State Crown, in the House of Lords chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, sits by the Imperial State Crown, in the House of Lords chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament

BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Prince William

"My Lords, pray be seated," Charles said as Camilla sat a few paces away to his left and William was seated to his right. The Imperial State Crown was placed prominently on a table between the two princes.

Charles continued the 11-minute speech, which outlined the administration's objectives. He used the often repeated phrase "Her Majesty's government" instead of "My government," which is what the Queen would use if she had delivered the speech.

Charles concluded the speech with a reference to how "Her Majesty" was looking forward to the celebrations that will mark her Platinum Jubilee next month and the upcoming Commonwealth Games in August.

"Her Majesty prays that the blessings of Almighty God will rest upon your counsels," he said.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall depart from the Sovereign's Entrance after attending the State Opening of Parliament
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall depart from the Sovereign's Entrance after attending the State Opening of Parliament

Chris Jackson/Getty Images Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Charles and Camilla left the Houses of Parliament followed by the Queen's private secretary Edward Young and his own private secretary Clive Alderton. Prince William and his equerry followed shortly behind.

A short burst of the national anthem, "God Save The Queen," played as the royal cars drove away.

The Queen, who has been forced to cancel many official engagements since the fall, has been using a walking cane and even complained about mobility problems, joking during an in-person meeting: "Well, as you can see, I can't move!"

The Duke of Cambridge walks through the Norman Porch for the State Opening of Parliament
The Duke of Cambridge walks through the Norman Porch for the State Opening of Parliament

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images Prince William

She also recently shared a small glimpse into her battle with COVID-19 earlier this year, revealing that "it does leave one feeling very tired and exhausted."

The palace has consistently announced the Queen's attendance or absence from planned events just hours before her expected arrival in recent months.

Queen Elizabeth II attends an audience with the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis (Not pictured) at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022 in Windsor, England.
Queen Elizabeth II attends an audience with the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis (Not pictured) at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022 in Windsor, England.

Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Queen Elizabeth

While she won't be at the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen has a busy schedule this week. She undertook a call with Australia on Monday and has a planned Privy Council and Prime Minister audience on Wednesday. She's also expected to undertake some private engagements later in the week, according to the palace.

The Queen's annual garden parties will kick off this week at Buckingham Palace, but the monarch will not be in attendance. Other members of the royal family will greet some of the 8000 guests who gather on the back lawns of the palace in central London.

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Last year, the State Opening in May was the first major engagement outside Windsor Castle for the Queen since the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip in April 2021.