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‘Always devoted’: Queen’s touching message as she skips important ceremony

The Queen has missed the annual Commonwealth Service for the first time.

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The Queen has released a powerful message to mark Commonwealth Day, saying her life will always be devoted to service.

The statement from Buckingham Palace came after the 95-year-old monarch was forced to pull out of the annual church service to mark the occasion.

The health of the Queen, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, has become an increasing concern. The palace, announced on Friday that she would miss Monday’s Commonwealth Service at London’s Westminster Abbey, which the royals have attended for nearly 50 years.

Buckingham Palace said her son and heir Prince Charles would represent her instead. He was accompanied by his wife Camilla and eldest son Prince William, with his wife Kate Middleton.

The decision was not related to any illness but due to concerns over the discomfort of travelling from her Windsor Castle home, to the west of London.

“In this year of my platinum jubilee, it has given me pleasure to renew the promise I made in 1947, that my life will always be devoted in service,” the Queen said in a message to the Commonwealth, an organisation of 54 countries, mainly former British colonies, which she heads.

The Queen, whose husband Prince Philip died last April aged 99, spent a night in hospital last October and has been mainly limited to carrying out duties virtually since then after being advised to rest by her doctors.

Last month she tested positive for COVID-19, suffering mild cold-like symptoms. She was well enough to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

Shortly after she celebrated the 70th anniversary of becoming Queen in February, a royal source said she intended to return to normal duties. Despite her pulling out of Monday’s service, the palace said the monarch would go ahead with other in-person engagements this week.

The Commonwealth has always been close to the Queen’s heart and historians say its success in evolving from the British Empire is one of the greatest achievements of her reign.

“Today, it is rewarding to observe a modern, vibrant and connected Commonwealth that combines a wealth of history and tradition with the great social, cultural and technological advances of our time,” she said in her message.

“That the Commonwealth stands ever taller is a credit to all who have been involved.”

-with AAP