Buckingham Palace announced on Monday that Queen Elizabeth II will not open the British Parliament for the first time in 59 years, choosing Prince Charles to read the speech instead.

The palace said the decision to pass one of the monarch's most symbolic responsibilities to Charles came after consultation with the queen's doctors, who made the decision amid health concerns for the 96-year-old British monarch.

"The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems," a spokesperson for the palace said, according to Sky News. "In consultation with her doctors [the queen] has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow."


The decision marks only the third time the queen has missed the opening during her 70-year reign. The other two times occurred when she was pregnant with Princes Andrew and Edward in 1959 and 1963. The speech was read by the lord chancellor instead.

Elizabeth issued letters patent for Charles and Prince William, who will also be in attendance, which grants them permission to open Parliament. The speech typically focuses on the legislative agenda of Parliament, with many members debating the issues for days. Working members of the royal family have taken some of the responsibilities upon themselves to help adjust the queen's schedule.

A spokesman for Parliament said Prime Minister Boris Johnson understood the cancellation.

"The Prime Minister fully respects the wishes of Her Majesty and is grateful to the Prince of Wales for agreeing to deliver the speech on her behalf," the spokesman said.

As a queen who enjoys being seen in public and participating in public ceremonies, the change in her schedule has been drastic after a hospital stay in October left her using a cane. Health concerns beginning in autumn have forced her to miss multiple annual traditions, including her appearance at a climate conference in Scotland, traditional Christmas festivities during the holidays, and Easter Sunday. Last week, it was announced she would not attend a garden party that usually attracts 8,000 people, according to the Guardian.


The queen marks 70 years on the throne next month in a platinum jubilee celebration that will include music, live performances, and a street fair. Elizabeth is the longest-reigning British monarch and the longest female head of state in world history.