Queen’s U-turn after being adamant on meeting PM in London ‘Windsor was not an option’

The 96-year-old monarch, who is facing ongoing mobility issues, sparked health concerns after it was revealed she will break with royal tradition to appoint a new prime minister at Balmoral for the first time in her reign. And now it has emerged that the Queen was initially “adamant” this would take place in London and “continue as swiftly and smoothly as possible” – with Windsor not even being an option.

Royal expert Robert Hardman said the new plans for Balmoral indicated “more than a change of mind” with family and doctors advising the Queen against “the upheaval of a 1,000-mile round trip when there is no constitutional or reputational issue at stake”.

He said a “relatively short journey” like the one from Windsor to London and back can “tire her out for several days”.

The Queen traditionally holds audiences with outgoing and incoming premiers at Buckingham Palace.

But Boris Johnson, who will tender his resignation, and the new Conservative Party leader who will be asked to form a government – either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak – will travel to Balmoral Castle, a 1,000-mile round trip, for the key audiences on Tuesday, September 6 instead.

It is believed to be the first time in the monarch’s 70 years on the throne that she has conducted the historic duty away from Buckingham Palace, and raised fresh concerns about her health.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Mr Hardman said: “Her intention was not merely to appoint a new prime minister but also to swear in new Cabinet ministers.

“She was adamant that this should be done in London so that ‘the business of government’ should continue as swiftly and smoothly as possible. Even Windsor was not an option.

“That the Queen has adapted her plans now plainly indicates more than a change of mind. Rather, it suggests that her family, her advisers and, more importantly, her doctors have urged her not to subject herself to the upheaval of a 1,000-mile round trip when there is no constitutional or reputational issue at stake.”

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The Queen has faced episodic mobility issues since last autumn and now regularly uses a walking stick, with some of her official engagements this year shorter in length than would have been expected.

She missed much of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations during the extended Bank Holiday weekend in June but did make two separate brief appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

It comes after the monarch dashed health fears when she was seen out walking with her beloved corgis unaided.

The Queen was described as looking “remarkably well” as she picnicked with her lady-in-waiting at her mother’s fishing lodge.

James Matthews, Sky News Scotland Bureau Chief, tweeted: “The Queen has been seen at Balmoral recently, looking ‘remarkably well’ according to observers, albeit w/ reduced mobility.

“Using stick on rough ground, but without whilst walking the corgis. Picnicking with lady in waiting at her mother’s fishing lodge.”

American author Rebecca Mead insisted the Queen was not “incapacitated” despite her son and future King Prince Charles stepping up to take on more royal responsibilities.

Writing in the New Yorker, she said: “In recent months and years, Charles has frequently served as his mother’s stand-in, without having officially been named Prince Regent—a role that would imply that the 96-year-old Queen is incapacitated, which her carrying out of limited royal obligations indicates that she is not.

“In perhaps his most significant understudy role, Charles appeared at the State Opening of Parliament earlier this year, delivering the Queen’s Speech from a gilded throne in the House of Lords.

“The monarch herself was represented, emoji-like, by the Imperial State Crown, which perched upon a cushion on a side table.”

The Queen was last seen in public on July 21 when she arrived at Aberdeen airport as part of her traditional summer Scottish break at Balmoral, where she usually stays from July to October.

Despite her ongoing mobility issues, the Queen has been delighted by visits from other members of the firm including “lots of great-grandchildren”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are believed to have visited the monarch last week along with their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children Lady Louise and Viscount James are also said to have visited Her Majesty in Scotland.

It is believed that Prince Andrew and Prince Charles have also visited their mother over the summer.