Queen supported by Prince Charles as they face heartbreaking detail at first major royal appearance since Prince Philip’s death

The Queen and Prince Philip traditionally attended this important engagement together

Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the Queen's Speech in the House of Lord's Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 11, 2021 in London, England
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen was supported by her son Prince Charles as she carried out her first major public royal engagement since Prince Philip’s death, but they were faced with a particularly heartbreaking detail. 


The Queen has carried out her first major royal duty since her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, passed away aged 99 at Windsor Castle last month. Throughout their happy marriage the Duke of Edinburgh was a huge source of support and guidance for his wife and was once described by the monarch as her “strength and stay”. 

Prior to his retirement in 2017, Philip accompanied the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament in his role as royal consort. However, this year’s opening was a very poignant affair as the Queen left Windsor Castle, where she spent lockdown with Philip, and travelled to London to attend this important engagement on May 11. 

She was supported at this important state occasion by her eldest son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. 

Queen Elizabeth II follows the imperial state crown along the royal gallery, whilst being escorted by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 11, 2021 in London, England

(Image credit: Photo by Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a touching moment, Prince Charles held his mother’s hand as they walked through the House of Lords toward the throne. It was here that the two faced a particularly heartbreaking detail that likely reminded them of their devastating loss, as they thought back to previous openings. 

Where once there were two thrones, the Sovereign’s Throne and the Consort’s Throne, now there is only one. Prince Philip’s throne was removed, with Charles and Camilla sitting on Chairs of State a short distance away from the Queen. 

The sight of Her Majesty sitting alone as she delivered the Queen's Speech to outline the government’s legislative plans was incredibly moving. 

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as she delivers her speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster on June 4, 2014 in London, England

(Image credit: Photo by Ray Collins - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

This was not the first time that she was supported by Prince Charles at this particular engagement. The heir to the throne has stepped in to accompany the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament on several occasions in the past.

However, the only time he did so prior to Prince Philip’s retirement was in 2017 when his father fell ill, two months before stepping away from public life. Since then, Charles has gone on to attend the State Opening of Parliament twice more, both in 2019. 

Due to COVID 19, the 2021 opening was a scaled back occasion and the Queen arrived at the Palace of Westminster in a car rather than by carriage as is traditional. 

Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lord's Chamber with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall seated (R) during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 11, 2021 in London, England

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Fewer politicians and peers attended than usual and the Queen’s speech to open the parliamentary session was placed before her on a table, rather than being handed to her directly.

Though the Queen has carried out several engagements virtually since the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, this public appearance and her return to London are hugely significant moments as she continues to mourn him.