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Queen to miss Commonwealth summit for first time since 1971

Queen to miss Commonwealth summit for first time since 1971

Queen Elizabeth II has announced that she will not attend November's Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Sri Lanka, and will send Prince Charles to represent her.

It marks the first time she will have missed the event since it was first held in 1971.

Palace officials said the decision was partly based on the taxing demands that long-haul travel would impose on the 87-year-old monarch.

Analysts believe the move is another visible sign that Prince Charles is preparing to assume the throne.

It is not the first time this year that the Queen has cancelled a public engagement, after she was admitted to hospital for the first time in 10 years suffering from gastroenteritis in March.

"The Queen will be represented at this year's Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) by the Prince of Wales," her Buckingham Palace residence said in a brief statement.

"We are reviewing the amount of long-haul travel that is taken by the Queen."

It added that the decision was unrelated to the controversy over Sri Lanka's human rights record, which has prompted Canada to threaten to boycott the meeting.

There had been a question mark over British prime minister David Cameron's attendance, but his office said he would be making the trip, while delivering a "very tough message" that Colombo must make progress on human rights.

Queen Elizabeth attended the last Commonwealth summit in Australia in 2011 in her role as the symbolic head of the 54-member organisation.

Last year, younger royals visited Britain's overseas territories, and the other Commonwealth realms where she is head of state, on her behalf to mark her diamond jubilee, or 60 years on the throne.

Hosts Sri Lanka said 64-year-old Prince Charles would be given a warm welcome at the November 15-17 meeting.

"Whilst paying enormous tribute to her majesty's continuing dedication and deep sense of duty to the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka warmly welcomes... the Prince of Wales, to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for CHOGM 2013," the Sri Lankan government said in a statement.


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