Queen cancels trip to Northern Ireland on medical advice

Monarch ‘in good spirits’ and ‘disappointed’ she will no longer be able to attend centenary service, Buckingham Palace says

Holly Bancroft
Wednesday 20 October 2021 18:41
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Queen cancels Northern Ireland trip on medical advice

The Queen has had to cancel a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland on medical advice, Buckingham Palace has said.

The 95-year-old monarch was meant to be travelling to Northern Ireland for a two-day trip, which was supposed to begin on Wednesday. She is said to be in “good spirits” and “disappointed” that she is no longer able to go.

The monarch had been due to arrive in Hillsborough, County Down, on Wednesday, and was scheduled to meet with locals, including schoolchildren, after the village was officially named Royal Hillsborough. It is the first village or town in Northern Ireland to be granted royal status.

The Queen was also due to attend a church service to mark 100 years of Northern Ireland in Armagh city.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Queen has reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days.

“Her Majesty is in good spirits and is disappointed that she will no longer be able to visit Northern Ireland, where she had been due to undertake a series of engagements today and tomorrow.

“The Queen sends her warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland, and looks forward to visiting in the future.”

The decision is understood not to be related to coronavirus.

The centenary event is due to take place on Thursday, and the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, will attend along with the heads of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches.

The church service became the centre of a row after Ireland’s president Michael D Higgins declined an invitation, a move that was criticised by unionist politicians.

The monarch received well-wishes from politicians after the announcement that her trip was to be cancelled.

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis tweeted: “Wishing Her Majesty the Queen all the very best as she takes a few days’ rest. I look forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We thank Her Majesty for her good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and trust that she will keep well and benefit from a period of rest.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie added: “I wish to convey my best wishes to Her Majesty the Queen as she recuperates, and hope that she feels much better very soon.

“She has been a source of great comfort during Northern Ireland’s darkest days and provided lasting leadership as we moved into a new era for all our people.

“I look forward to seeing the Queen back in Northern Ireland in the near future.”

A royal commentator said the cancellation of the Queen’s trip was a reminder that the head of state cannot do what was expected of her in her younger days.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen’s autumn schedule had been more crammed than expected, but that last-minute cancellations were inevitable in the future.

Since the Queen returned from Balmoral Castle at the start of October, she has met Canadian troops at Windsor, launched the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games, attended the Royal British Legion centenary service at Westminster Abbey, travelled to Cardiff for the Welsh Senedd opening, and hosted a global investment summit reception, as well as holding audiences and video calls.

Mr Little said: “I think when you get to the age of 95 and you have a role such as the Queen has, there is an inevitability about last-minute cancellations.

“Unfortunately, I think this is just how it’s going to have to be from time to time.

“The fact that she has been busy and seemingly healthy and happy of late shows that, clearly, looks can be deceptive, unless something has happened overnight.”

He added: “Mentally, the Queen is pin-sharp as ever, and when she makes speeches she speaks well.

“But you notice that the body is perhaps a little bit less so.

“Every now and again there will be this reminder that she is 95 and she can’t do what was expected of her 10, 20 years ago.”

Church leaders expressed sorrow after learning that the Queen would not be attending the service.

“We are very sorry to learn that it will not be possible for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be present for the service of reflection and hope in Armagh tomorrow,” they said in a statement.

“We wish to convey to Her Majesty our good wishes and, in doing so, to acknowledge the significance of her commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, which has meant a great deal to people throughout this island.”

The statement was signed by Presbyterian moderator David Bruce, Church of Ireland primate John McDowell, Catholic primate Eamon Martin, president of the Irish Council of Churches Ivan Patterson, and president of the Methodist Church in Ireland Sahr Yambasu.

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