The Queen was ‘adamant’ that Prince Charles delivered her speech at the State Opening of Parliament – as part of the ‘pin sharp’ monarch’s ‘masterplan’ to prepare her son for the throne and ‘soften the edges of transition’.
Her Majesty, 96, was reluctantly forced to pull out of giving the Queen’s Speech for the first time in 59 years on Tuesday due to ‘episodic mobility problems’.
She had only previously missed the event twice in her entire reign – in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively – and the speech was read by the then Lord Chancellor.
Prince Charles, dressed in ‘full rig’ uniform, read her speech for the first time and was accompanied by Prince William – who had never attended before.
Mobility issues have dogged the Queen since last year and have forced her to cancel a string of high-profile public engagements – with concern raised about whether the increasingly frail she will ever be seen in the Palace of Westminster again.
But his appearance was planned by the Queen, her son and their aides as part of the latest move to ‘soften the edges of transition’ before Charles becomes king, The Times reports.
A royal source said: ‘Make no mistake, this was the trailer. The prince was dressed in a very regal way, but not to the point of appropriating the sovereign.
Prince Charles sits by the The Imperial State Crown in the House of Lords Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday
Despite concern over her health, the Queen had a beaming smile as she watched The Royal Windsor Horse Show on Friday
The Queen pictured as she gave the 2021 Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords in May last year
‘Once you adjust your eyes to that, it won’t be so different when we see him wearing the crown. Technically, it wasn’t even necessary to have him read the speech.’
An emotional Prince Charles gazed at his mother’s crown before he announced 38 of Boris Johnson’s Bills for the coming year including new laws to properly punish eco hooligans, capitalise on Brexit, better regulate landlords and ensure Britons can pay their soaring bills.
It was only the third time the Queen has missed the event in her 70-year reign, with the Lord Chancellor reading a speech on her behalf on each occasion.
But the monarch this year insisted that Charles deliver the speech, rather than current Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab.
William and the Duchess of Cornwall flanked Charles as he delivered the speech from the consort’s throne, used by his father Prince Philip for decades, in a major constitutional moment for the UK.
Poignantly a space remained next to him, where the Queen’s slightly larger missing throne would usually be located, as power continues to slowly transition from Britain’s longest reigning monarch to her son and grandson.
The Prince of Wales giving the speech was a ‘very conscious decision’ by the Queen, who is keen to ‘cement in people’s minds that his role is coming’, the source added.
While the State Opening of Parliament is the most prominent formal engagement Charles has represented his mother at, she has been sewing the seeds of transition since 2017.
Charles laid a wreath at the Remembrance Sunday event at the Cenotaph that year, while he also appeared on her behalf at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey earlier this year and hosted the first Buckingham Palace garden party this week.
The Prince of Wales (R) looks at The Imperial State Crown (L) being removed after delivering a speech in the House of Lords Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament, in London, on May 10, 2022
Another source close to the Queen said ‘things have been changing for a while’ as the monarch has a pragmatic understanding about her ability to perform the role.
But she continues to sign legislation, receive visits from heads of states and perform engagement virtually from her office.
The Queen is also said to remain ‘pin sharp’ and continues to meet weekly with the Prime Minister – insisting she very much remains in charge.
It comes after the monarch, beaming proudly, raised cheers of delight as she made her first public appearance since March at what is one of her favourite events of the year on Friday.
The Queen looked back on form at the Royal Windsor Horse show as she put on an animated display despite her ongoing health concerns.
However, she has long started the gradual process of transition and Charles is also understood to have access to the red boxes and Government paperwork received by Her Majesty.
The prince ‘gets to see pretty much everything’ and the pair ‘see each other privately far more than people realise’.
Charles and Camilla will travel to Kigali, Rwanda, next month after their planned trip to the African country was postponed the last two years due to Covid.
The monarch made Camilla the next Queen Consort in February, declaring it was her ‘sincere wish’ for her daughter-in-law to be fully acknowledged when Charles becomes king
It will be the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting since 2018, where the Queen oversaw a unanimous vote for Charles to succeed her.
She said she wanted her son to ‘carry on the important work’ started by her father in 1949.
The monarch also made Camilla the next Queen Consort in February, declaring it was her ‘sincere wish’ for her daughter-in-law to be fully acknowledged when Charles becomes king.
In her Christmas Day broadcast, the Queen said ‘we see our own children and their families embrace the roles, traditions and values that mean so much to us’.
And at the Cop26 Summit in Glasgow, she told of how Prince Philip’s work protecting the planet would ‘live on through the work of our eldest con Charles and his eldest son William’.
A source said she has ’embraced the succession’, but remains in the driving seat.