LONDON, United Kingdom | One night in the hospital and her visit to COP26 canceled: at 95, Elizabeth II was forced to slow down, a “turning point” after seven decades devoted to her subjects.
• Read also: Elizabeth II gives up attending COP 26
His trip to the UN climate conference, which begins Sunday in Scotland was eagerly awaited, as the Queen, like the entire royal family, is personally committed to environmental issues.
But following a medical opinion “advising him to rest”, “His Majesty decided with regret not to go to Glasgow,” Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday.
For the event, with major stakes for the planet, it is “disappointing”, concedes Penny Junor, a specialist in the royal family interviewed by AFP. “But this is a very reasonable decision for the queen” given what the trip would involve: a “long trip”, followed by a “particularly tiring evening reception”, coupled with “the risk of exposure to COVID -19 ”.
So many dangers for the sovereign, put to rest on October 20 the day after a reception at Windsor Castle where she appeared chatting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and American businessman Bill Gates.
She spent the following night in hospital, her first hospitalization since 2013. Buckingham Palace was content to mention “preliminary examinations”.
The Queen has since officially taken over “light” tasks. She received two ambassadors by videoconference.
For Richard Fitzwilliams, specialist of the royal family, the queen had to give up “reluctantly” to the COP26. “She knows that an event has a special cachet if she attends it,” he emphasizes. But “clearly, at 95, there are limits”.
Monarch for nearly 70 years, the queen, who is due to celebrate her platinum jubilee next year, was still showing very good form in public recently.
After her traditional summer vacation in Balmoral, Scotland, she took part almost daily in official engagements, resuming its pre-pandemic rhythm: 295 engagements in 2019. Not to mention the less visible work of reviews of government documents and its almost weekly talks with the Prime Minister.
Elizabeth II was recently seen walking with a cane, a first since 2004. According to The Sun, the monarch has also stopped walking her Corgi dogs in recent days.
“It’s a bit of a turning point,” said Penny Junor. “She worked at the pace of someone 20 years younger, and I think the public needs to adjust their expectations and recognize that she is 95 years old.”
A feeling shared by the British interviewed by AFP. The queen should “move more and more into the background and finally take the happy retirement she deserves,” said Suzanne Foutain, 68 years old.
For her, Elizabeth II “needed to continue working after the loss of her husband” Philip, who died at age 99 in April, and has done too much.
“She needs to slow down,” adds Michelle Hall, “a little worried”.
Queen of visios
For Penny Junor, the sovereign will in the future make “fewer appearances in person”. And “when she does appear, it will be as a spectator, rather than meeting dozens of people at receptions.”
It is his son Charles, heir to the crown, who will deliver the opening speech of COP26. The 72-year-old prince, less loved by the British, has already represented her abroad since she no longer went there. The queen will also be able to count on her grandson Prince William, third in the order of succession and much more popular than her father.
Richard Fitzwilliams also expects to see Elizabeth II participate in more events by videoconference: “It’s great the way she manages to communicate virtually,” he said, citing his addresses to the nation in times of pandemic .
Something to reassure Linda Smart, 73-year-old Londoner.
“She’s stronger than anything. She still has a few years ahead of her, that’s for sure ”.