Practical adjustments and diary alterations for still-serving Queen

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With the nation’s longest reigning monarch just four years away from her 100th birthday and facing ongoing mobility issues, practical adjustments and last-minute changes to the Queen’s diary have become the norm.

On Tuesday, Liz Truss will make the 1,000-mile round-trip to see the head of state and be appointed prime minister at Balmoral, rather than making the 96-year-old trek back to London from the Scottish Highlands during her summer break.

It is the latest in a number of alterations as the Queen continues her duties in her twilight years.

Her Platinum Jubilee milestone was celebrated with millions taking to the streets during a bumper four-day weekend of national commemorations in June.

Platinum Jubilee
The Queen holding her walking stick during a Jubilee balcony appearance (Leon Neal/PA)

But she was seen in public just four times over the weekend, and missed the thanksgiving service having suffered “some discomfort”, and then the Epsom Derby and the pop concert.

In a written message, she renewed her commitment to serve as monarch, but with the key phrase “to the best of my ability, supported by my family”.

In May, the Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament – in what was a historic delegation of constitutional duties – and the first time the Queen had missed it in nearly 60 years.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt described Charles as “teetering on the edge of becoming a de facto prince regent”, with the Queen “progressively withdrawing from public life”.

State Opening of Parliament
The Prince of Wales delivers the Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament (Alastair Grant/PA)

During the pandemic, the Queen’s working life, conducted from the bubble of Windsor Castle, moved online, with audiences with new ambassadors conducted via video calls, and her weekly audiences with her prime minister held as telephone conversations.

The switch to virtual royal duties has proved invaluable given the Queen’s mobility problems and advanced age, and has continued in some areas, despite the fall in Covid cases, and become a permanent feature of the monarch’s diary.

Her first Privy Council with incoming prime minister Ms Truss will take place virtually on Wednesday, the day after the audience.

The Queen has held online Privy Councils before, but it is believed to be the first time she has done so virtually following the appointment of a new prime minister.

The monarch is rarely seen outside of a royal residence or home on official duties, and when she is, the appearances are shorter with notable practical aids.

Chelsea Flower Show
The Queen in a buggy at the Chelsea Flower Show (James Whatling/PA)

The Queen took delivery of the £62,000 luxury golf buggy, which has a lithium battery, leather seats and Bluetooth speakers, earlier this year to help her get around Windsor.

During an in-person audience in February, the Queen remarked: “Well, as you can see, I can’t move.”

She secretly spent a night in hospital in October undergoing tests and was then under doctors’ orders to rest for the next three months, missing the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service and Cop26 climate change talks.

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