The Queen is to cut back on engagements requiring the use of long haul flights, Buckingham Palace said today, in an unprecedented announcement which may herald a new era for the Queen of semi-retirement, with Prince Charles taking over more duties. The first concrete evidence that the Queen really is to begin easing up on her hectic schedule of engagements came today, with the announcement from Buckingham Palace that HM will not be attending her beloved Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Sri Lanka in November as part of a wind-down of long-haul flying.
The decision is though to have been precipitated by the Queen's recent hospitilisation with symptoms of gastrointerits.
It will not have been taken lightly, but courtiers and family members who have been urging the Queen for years to take things easier will regard it as a positive step in safeguarding the 87-year old's health. The Queen has up till now consistently refused to cut back on publc appearances, telling courtiers: "I have to be seen to be believed."
The Duke of Edinburgh, her husband, has also cut back significantly on public commitments since he was hospitalised three times in the past two years.
A spokesman said: "The Queen will be represented by the Prince of Wales. We are reviewing the amount of long-haul travel that is taken by the Queen. As a result of that she won't be travelling to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting later this year."
The Queen, still carries out in excess of 400 engagements a year, but many palace insiders hope that will be reduced in 2014.
The 2013 Chogm takes place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November.
The Queen was forced to miss the Commonwealth day service at Westminster Abbey on 11 March – the first time she had been absent from the event in 20 years. In a demonstration of her commitment to the association, the Queen attended a reception at Marlborough House the same evening to sign the new Commonwealth charter despite still recovering from the symptoms of gastroenteritis.