Buckingham Palace said on Friday that Queen Elizabeth II, who recently recovered from Covid-19, will not attend a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey next week — in what would have been her first major public engagement in weeks.
The queen, who returned to work on March 1, met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada this week in her first in-person official meeting after her positive test result. The palace posted a photograph to Twitter on Monday of the queen, who is also queen of Canada, receiving Mr. Trudeau at Windsor Castle for a one-on-one meeting.
The decision to skip the Commonwealth Day service was related to discussions about the queen’s comfort in traveling to and from the event, according to reporting from Reuters. Queen Elizabeth, 95, was hospitalized last October for undisclosed ailments and was advised by her medical team to rest for at least two weeks.
The service, which will be held on Monday, celebrates the Commonwealth of Nations, mainly former territories of the British Empire. The palace said in a statement that Queen Elizabeth asked Prince Charles to represent her.
In addition to Charles, the heir to the throne, the palace said the service would be attended by his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; and Princess Alexandra, a cousin of the queen’s. But, in another example of the royal family dealing with Covid within its ranks, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, another cousin of the queen’s, recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and the palace said he would no longer be attending.
The event is coming as new cases of the coronavirus are climbing in the United Kingdom — up 40 percent from the daily average two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database.
A highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron known as BA.2 has become the dominant strain in parts of Europe. In England, researchers found that it took less time on average for someone with BA.2 to infect another person, accelerating its spread through communities. But officials say it is too early to determine if it is driving the U.K.’s recent rise in cases.
Queen Elizabeth first tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb. 20, with the palace describing her symptoms as mild. In the days after, the queen canceled some virtual engagements but continued with “light duties,” the palace said.
When the queen received Mr. Trudeau on Monday, the public was further reassured about her recovery. “The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead,” the palace said in its statement.