Queen opts out of COP26 climate summit, her third cancellation in a week

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Queen opts out of COP26 climate summit, her third cancellation in a week
© Provided by National Post Queen Elizabeth appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence, during a virtual audience Tuesday.

Queen Elizabeth has pulled out of the United Nations COP26 climate summit after being advised by doctors to rest. She will instead deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a video message to be recorded this week, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

The British monarch, 95, had been expected to travel to Glasgow to attend an evening reception at COP26 on Monday.

A palace source said the decision not to attend had been taken as a “sensible precaution” and to allow everyone to know in advance. She remains in good spirits and wants COP26 to be a success, the source added.

“Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle,” Buckingham Palace said.

“Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the Evening Reception of COP26 on Monday, 1st November.”

After cancelling her visit to Northern Ireland last Wednesday, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch stayed overnight in hospital after undergoing “preliminary investigations” for an unspecified but not COVID-19 related ailment.  Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying “the Queen sends her warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and looks forward to visiting in the near future.”

She also opted not to attend church service on Sunday.

Aides gave no details on what had prompted the medical attention and some royal correspondents said they hoped the official version of events painted the full picture.

The medical tests marked her first overnight stay in a hospital in eight years, generating widespread concern. On Google, “How is the queen?” was a trending search term in Britain.

But the fact she was in sparkling form at a reception the night before her unplanned hospital stay, and was back at her desk working on “light duties” within 24 hours, suggests it may not be too worrisome. After a short period of mourning following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, she has been in good form, criss-crossing the country on a long list of engagements for a 95-year-old.

Already this month she has opened both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, alongside more than a dozen other engagements.

The BBC’s Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, who was criticized on social media for wearing a black suit and tie, told BBC Breakfast on Friday that the situation was “quite difficult to read.

“We were led to believe on Wednesday by Buckingham Palace that the queen was resting,” when she was actually hospitalized, he said. “We weren’t given the complete picture then.”

Witchell added that while the Palace would argue the case for medical privacy, “the problem it seems to me is that rumour and misinformation always thrives in absence of proper, accurate and trustworthy information.”

It’s not surprising a medical bulletin wasn’t issued immediately. The Palace usually says nothing when Royals go to the hospital for checkups or tests; it will issue statements when they have procedures or operations, or if events are cancelled.

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The Royal family is believed to have started a new working model to make sure the aging monarch is no longer scheduled to appear at events on her own — so that, should her health worsen, by having other senior royal already scheduled, the public would not be disappointed with a Royal no-show. Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on this change.

Prince Charles and Prince William are set to attend COP26, which Britain has cast as the last big chance to slow rising temperatures, and it hopes to persuade leaders to adopt tougher climate targets.

Queen opts out of COP26 climate summit, her third cancellation in a week
© Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS The queen appears on a screen via video link from Windsor Castle during a virtual audience to receive the traditionally clad ambassador from the Republic of Korea, Gunn Kim, accompanied by HeeJung Lee, at Buckingham Palace.

On Tuesday, the monarch held two virtual audiences from Windsor Castle, one with incoming South Korean ambassador Kim Gunn, and one with the Swiss ambassador, Markus Leitner.

Buckingham Palace said that during the meeting, both ambassadors presented the queen with their “credentials” — letters from their respective heads of state that serves as proof that the queen “can trust them to speak on behalf of their country.”

Queen opts out of COP26 climate summit, her third cancellation in a week
© Victoria Jones/Pool via Reuters The queen also held a virtual audience to receive the ambassador from the Swiss Confederation, Markus Leitner, accompanied by his wife, Nicole, in Buckingham Palace.

“The Queen is back in action,” wrote ITV’s Royal editor Chris Ship.

Photos taken of the virtual meeting showed the monarch smiling as she sat facing the screen.

“Good to see the Queen is all smiles back at work,” tweeted Roya Nikkhah, Royal editor at the Sunday Times, who shared several of the photos.

The Queen appeared in good spirits last night, prior to a call with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, as is the norm before budget statements.

Earlier this month, the queen had expressed irritation about the number of elected world leaders who had not committed to coming. Some big names, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, have said they will not attend, while others like China’s Xi Jinping have not confirmed.

“We only know about people who are not coming,” the queen said while attending the opening of the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff on Oct. 14, in comments that were picked up by the microphone of a nearby a live stream. “It’s really irritating when they talk but they don’t do.”

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