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Just days before her first wedding anniversary without Prince Philip, The Queen, 95, has been forced to miss another event - her five-yearly visit to General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England.
Her Majesty has had to opt out of several occasions - including the Remembrance Sunday church service - while she recovers from a sprained back.
Prince Edward went in her place, armed with a poignant note from his mother to read to the newly elected Synod.
"It is hard to believe that it is over 50 years since Prince Philip and I attended the very first meeting of the General Synod," it read.
"None of us can slow the passage of time, and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings."
"Of course, in our richly diverse modern society, the wellbeing of the nation depends on the contribution of people of all faiths, and of none. But for people of faith, the last few years have been particularly hard, with unprecedented restrictions in accessing the comfort and reassurance of public worship."
"For many, it has been a time of anxiety, of grief, and of weariness. Yet the Gospel has brought hope, as it has done throughout the ages; and the Church has adapted and continued its ministry, often in new ways, such as digital forms of worship."
She went on to say she sympathised with the ‘weighty responsibilities’ and ‘difficult decisions’ the Synod would have in its next five-year term.
"In some areas, there will, of course, be differing views and my hope is that you will be strengthened with the certainty of the love of God, as you work together and draw on the Church’s tradition of unity in fellowship for the tasks ahead."
This year will is the first in the 51-year history of the General Synod that a monarch does not attend.
As supreme governor of the church, The Queen has attended the opening sessions of every elected Synod - which passes legislation for the Church of England - since it began in 1970.
Prince Edward told Church House, the Westminster headquarters of the Church of England, that his mother sent her "sincere and deep apologies that she cannot be here today".
"I think you probably understand why, and she regrets that deeply," he added.
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