Watch: Royal family attend Commonwealth Day service without the Queen
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other senior royals stepped in to represent the Queen as she missed the Commonwealth Day service for the first time in nearly a decade.
The Prince of Wales was seen arriving at Westminster Abbey in London with his wife the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday afternoon before the couple greeted Prince William and Kate Middleton warmly.
The service honouring the 54 countries and nations that make up the Commonwealth was held for the first time since being cancelled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cambridges were two of the first to arrive for the afternoon service and were both notably dressed in blue tones, which could be interpreted as a further show of support for Ukraine.
The Duchess of Cambridge chose a bold blue shade for her bespoke Catherine Walker coat dress, Lock & Co hat, and matching blue-hued, Rupert Sanderson heels.
In a further nod of solidarity, the duchess opted to wear sapphire jewellery, which once belonged to Princess Diana, and included the same necklace and earrings she wore when meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, at Buckingham Palace in October 2020.
Last week, during a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park, the Duchess of Cambridge also wore an Alexander McQueen cashmere jumper in a similar blue hue to that of the Ukraine flag.
"Fantastic to come together to celebrate #CommonwealthDay and modern, vibrant and diverse communities across the globe at Westminster Abbey today," the royal couple wrote on Twitter.
Although she was not able to attend the prestigious event, her Majesty sent a written message to the 2.5 billion citizens in the Commonwealth, affectionately known as the “family of nations”, for the annual celebration on Monday.
The Queen said she hoped the people of the Commonwealth "can draw strength and inspiration from what we share" during these "testing times".
“Our family of nations continues to be a point of connection, co-operation and friendship," she told the Commonwealth.
“It is a place to come together to pursue common goals and the common good, providing everyone with the opportunity to serve and benefit.
“In these testing times, it is my hope that you can draw strength and inspiration from what we share, as we work together towards a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, hundreds of dignitaries and more than 600 schoolchildren also attended the event.
Labour leader Keir Starmer, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were also present yesterday, alongside author/TV judge David Walliams who attended the event with his mother.
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were also scheduled to attend but cancelled last week after the duke tested positive for COVID-19.
Singers Mica Paris and Emeli Sande gave inspiring renditions of songs among a host of performances and when the Duke of Cambridge met some of the performers with the other royals, he told Sande: “The singing was incredible – all the music was great.”
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The Queen had hoped to appear at the event, which is an important occasion in the royal calendar, but a Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed on Friday: “After discussing the arrangements with the Royal Household, the Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent Her Majesty at the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
“The Queen will continue with other planned engagements, including in-person audiences, in the week ahead.”
The service would have been the Queen’s first major public appearance since reaching her Platinum Jubilee milestone.
She last pulled out of attending the service nine years ago in 2013 while recovering from a nasty bout of gastroenteritis.
Before that, the Queen had not been absent from a Commonwealth Day service for 20 years, the last occasion being when she had flu in 1993.
The monarch returned to in-person events last week, since recovering from COVID, when she welcomed Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau to Windsor Castle for an audience.
During her meeting with Mr Trudeau, the head of state was not pictured with the walking stick she has been using lately and the pair shared a joke at the start of their meeting.