Britain’s Queen Elizabeth missed the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph due to a sprained back, extending the 95-year-old monarch’s absence from public life after she was ordered to rest following a stay in hospital last month.
A Buckingham Palace source said the sprain was unrelated to the unspecified ailment that caused the queen’s hospital visit, calling it an “incredibly unfortunate coincidence”.
But Elizabeth’s absence from an engagement she sees as one of the most significant of the year will increase concerns about her health.
The ceremony would have been the queen’s first in-person public engagement since she was advised to rest after spending a night in hospital .
“Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service,” the palace said in a statement earlier on Sunday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday evening he had seen the queen last week and wanted to reassure the nation that she was well.
“I did see the queen for an audience last week, on Wednesday in Windsor, and she’s very well,” he told reporters.
In her 69 years on the throne, the monarch had previously missed the event at the Cenotaph War Memorial in central London only six times, four while on tour abroad and twice while pregnant.
The ceremony is held on the nearest Sunday to November 11 to mark the end of World War One. The sight of the queen at the event has been one of the defining images of her reign through the decades: head bowed, wearing black and displaying a red poppy.