Queen Pulls Out of First Public Events Since Prince Andrew Incident

Queen Elizabeth II has pulled out of two traditional royal Easter engagements that would have marked her first public appearances since she attended Prince Philip's memorial service with Prince Andrew last month.

The Queen asked the Prince of Wales to represent her at the annual Royal Maundy service at Windsor Castle on Thursday and Buckingham Palace has indicated that the monarch is "not expected to attend" the annual Easter Sunday service at St George's Chapel, Windsor this weekend

These developments follow the Queen's dramatic scaling down of public engagements in the wake of recent health and mobility issues. During a virtual engagement at a hospital in London this week the monarch told staff and patients that she was left feeling "very tired and exhausted" after falling ill with coronavirus in February.

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Maundy 2018
Queen Elizabeth II "is not expected to attend" the traditional royal Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle this weekend as Prince Charles deputizes at Maundy service. Photographed at the Royal Maundy service, April 18, 2019. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The announcement that she will not be attending the public Easter services also comes in the wake of heightened criticism of the monarch's decision to be walked to her chair at the recent service of thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip by her disgraced son, Andrew.

The event was Andrew's first public appearance since settling a sexual assault lawsuit in the U.S filed by Virginia Guiffre, which was said to cost him in the region of $10 million.

The Queen's decision to support her son was called "gobsmacking" by royal expert Charlie Procter, and royal biographer Omid Scobie told Newsweek he felt angered by the decision.

"I knew where this was all going to head," he told chief royal correspondent Jack Royton on The Royal Report podcast, "the focus would move over to Andrew, the service itself would be completely overshadowed and that's exactly what happened."

This year's royal Easter celebrations are being held officially for the first time since the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Royal Maundy service, until 2020, was held in a different cathedral around the country each year, during which symbolic purses of coins would be given to elderly members of the local community who have performed a public service. The Queen is reported to have missed this service only four times previously throughout her 70-year reign.

The Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, deputized for the Queen in this year's service, held on Thursday in Windsor.

Prince Charles Royal Maundy Service 2022
Prince Charles was asked by Queen Elizabeth II to attend the annual Royal Maundy service in her place accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, April 14, 2022. Samir Hussein/WireImage

The annual Easter Sunday service at St George's Chapel has become a highlight of royal watchers' calendars, presenting a rare opportunity to see the Queen and members of the extended royal family gathered together.

Buckingham Palace released a statement on Thursday morning outlining that "members of The Royal Family will attend the Easter Mattins Service at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on Easter Sunday," but notably omitting any reference to the Queen.

These events do not mark the first that the Queen has pulled out of this year. Following a series of health scares last autumn she has been working on a reduced schedule of public appearances, and moving forward has adopted a combination of virtual meetings and in-person audiences from Windsor Castle.

A notable cancellation that the Queen has made this year was her attendance at the annual commonwealth day service at Westminster Abbey in March. A statement from Buckingham Palace released at the time said that the decision had been made by the Queen after "discussing arrangements with the royal household."

The announcement was made shortly after the monarch was filmed at a Windsor Castle audience responding to a question about how she was by saying: "As you can see I can't move."

Queen Elizabeth II is due to mark her 96th birthday on April 21 and is celebrating her platinum jubilee with a busy schedule of events planned for the summer including a concert at Buckingham Palace and a special Trooping the Colour ceremony.

Newsweek has reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.

For more royal news and commentary check out Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast:

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