Queen leaves Windsor for first time since Prince Philip's death to open parliament

·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read

Watch: Queen arrives at State Opening of Parliament

The Queen has left Windsor Castle for the first time since the death of her husband Prince Philip to carry out the state opening of parliament in London.

The monarch was accompanied by Prince Charles for Tuesday's state event, for which she wore day dress instead of the formal robes.

She did not wear a face covering during the event – possibly so that she did not have to remove it to make the speech. 

Both Prince Charles and Camilla, who have also received both coronavirus vaccinations, did wear coverings.

She did not wear the Imperial State Crown; it was placed on a cushion near her as it did in 2019.

The crown is made of more than 3,000 gemstones and weighs two pounds and 13 ounces. She last wore it for the 2016 state opening.

Queen Elizabeth II proceeds through the Royal Gallery before delivering the her speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Picture date: Tuesday May 11, 2021.
The Queen proceeds through the Royal Gallery before delivering her speech at the state opening of parliament. (PA)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber,, during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on May 11, 2021, which is taking place with a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by Eddie MULHOLLAND / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EDDIE MULHOLLAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen reads the Queen's Speech on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber. (Eddie Mulholland/AFP)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II travels in a Range Rover to the Houses of Parliament for the State Opening of Parliament in London on May 11, 2021, which is taking place with a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen travelled by Range Rover instead of carriage to the Houses of Parliament for this year's state opening of parliament in London on 11 May. (AFP)

The Queen wore a pale lilac coat with yellow floral embroidery around the collar, and a matching lilac hat, and walked next to her son during the simple procession through the Houses of Parliament.

Charles, 72, has accompanied his mother for state openings since 2017, when Philip fell ill a few months before he retired in August of that year.

The 2019 state opening had already set a precedent for a scaled back event, taking into account the Queen's age, but this year has been impacted by coronavirus too.

MPs and members of the House of Lords had to wear masks during the ceremony and only those who presented a negative COVID test beforehand were allowed to attend.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceeds through the Royal Gallery following her speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Picture date: Tuesday May 11, 2021.
The Queen and Prince Charles proceeds through the Royal Gallery after her speech during the state opening of Parliament in the House of Lords. (PA)
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The Imperial State Crown arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on May 11, 2021, which is taking place with a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Imperial State Crown being carried ahead of the state opening of parliament at the Houses of Parliament. (AFP)
The Prince of Wales arrives for the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Picture date: Tuesday May 11, 2021.
The Prince of Wales arrives for the state opening of parliament by the Queen, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. (PA Images)

There were only 108 people there, compared to the usual 600. 

There were 74 people in the chamber, including the monarch, Charles, Camilla, the speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, prime minister Boris Johnson and leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer, representatives from the House of Lords and House of Commons, and those involved in the ceremonial procession.

There were also 17 members of the Lords and 17 MPs in the Royal Gallery.

Instead of handing the speech directly to the Queen for her to read, the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland placed it on a table, in one of the COVID secure changes made.

There will be no military street liners, no carriages or procession, no military band nor Guard of Honour either at Westminster or Buckingham Palace.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (C), wearing a face covering,  arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on May 11, 2021, which is taking place with a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla wore a face covering and a lilac and white coat for the occasion. (AFP)

The Royal Standard flew at Buckingham Palace, signalling she was in residence, before she left to go to the Palace of Westminster – where the standard was flown after she arrived.

As she has been in Windsor almost all the time since March 2020, it's the first time the Royal Standard has been flown for six months.

She was in London in November for a ceremony at the Cenotaph.

While the Queen has been carrying out virtual engagements and holding audiences via video calls, she has not been seen out and about since her late husband's funeral on 17 April.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R) sits with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London on December 19, 2019. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by Leon Neal / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen and Charles at the State Opening of Parliament in 2019. (AFP)
The Imperial State Crown is brought to the Sovereign's Entrance of the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on December 19, 2019. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP) (Photo by VICTORIA JONES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Imperial State Crown was carried on a cushion in 2019 as well. (AFP)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords at the State Opening of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament in London on October 14, 2019. - The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in a Queen's Speech. (Photo by Paul Edwards / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PAUL EDWARDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen at the October 2019 opening, when she last wore the state robes. (AFP)

And she has not left Windsor since the end of March, when she marked the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force at the CWGC Air Forces Memorial, in Runnymede, Surrey. 

On Monday, Buckingham Palace released a call she held with Sarah Downs and Clive Holland, deputy Commonwealth president of the society, in which she recalled getting her junior lifesaving award back in 1941.

She reflected: "But it was a great achievement and I was very proud to wear the badge on the front of my swimming suit. It was very grand I thought."

Royal mourning for Prince Philip ended on 22 April, the day after the Queen's 95th birthday, and while her grandson Prince William and Kate were out in public very quickly, she took a few more days before returning to duties.

She held two virtual audiences with new ambassadors, with the Queen beaming into Buckingham Palace via video link.

Watch: Queen recalls becoming first person in Commonwealth to receive lifesaving award 80 years ago