Queen cancels Epsom Derby appearance as royal family reunites for thanksgiving service

Monarch, who found the first day of jubilee celebrations ‘very tiring’, is thought to have met Sussexes’ child for first time

<p>The Queen will not be making an appearance at the Epsom Derby on Saturday, Buckingham Palace has said </p>

The Queen will not be making an appearance at the Epsom Derby on Saturday, Buckingham Palace has said

The royal family united today to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee at a thanksgiving service at which Harry and Meghan returned to the royal fold.

Thousands of wellwishers turned out to show their support for the Queen outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London as the monarch’s wider family gathered in her honour at the special service.

The 96-year-old Queen pulled out of attending the event after experiencing what Buckingham Palace said was “some discomfort” during the first day of her platinum jubilee celebrations on Thursday.

The palace later announced she would also not be attending the Epsom Derby on Saturday.

The Duchess of Cambridge is reported to have told an attendee at a Guildhall reception on Friday that the Queen was “fine” and had a “lovely time” at Thursday’s celebrations, but found the day “very tiring”.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, leave after the National Service of Thanksgiving

She watched on television from Windsor as the Archbishop of York compared the monarch’s well-known love of horse racing to her long reign, suggesting it “reflects the distance of Aintree more than the sprints of Epsom”.

Prince Charles represented her during the thanksgiving service, but all eyes were on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who returned two years after pulling out of royal duties in 2020 and moving to the US.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Charles

It was the first time Harry and Meghan had been on full public view alongside the Windsors since then, and crowds cheered the couple as they arrived.

But Harry and Meghan were relegated to seats in the second row, indicative of their more minor position within the royal family.

There appeared to be no opportunity for them to meet senior royals during the service, and afterwards, following seniority, Charles and Camilla and William and Kate left first.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

During the service, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said the Queen was “still in the saddle”, as he thanked her for “staying the course”, with her granddaughter Olympic equestrian Zara Tindall smiling at the remarks along with the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Queen is expected to watch the Epsom Derby on television as her daughter, the Princess Royal, attends in her place.

However, with Harry and Meghan in London, the sovereign would have had her first chance to meet her great-granddaughter Lilibet, according to a royal commentator.

Princess Anne, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge share a joke before the service at St Paul’s Cathedral

Buckingham Palace said on Thursday evening that the Queen “greatly enjoyed” her birthday parade and flypast in London but “did experience some discomfort”.

The palace continued: “Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty, with great reluctance, has concluded that she will not attend.”

The Queen, who is understood to have suffered episodic mobility issues, did attend a beacon-lighting event at Windsor Castle on Thursday evening.

Most of her public appearances so far this year have been online, but she appeared at the Chelsea Flower Show in person in an electric buggy.

In Australia, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was illuminated in purple to mark the jubilee, just days after the appointment of the country’s first minister whose job it will be to oversee a transition to a republic.

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