Although Britain is well-versed in choosing – and replacing – prime ministers, the choreography today will have an unfamiliar feel, with the Queen meeting outgoing leader Boris Johnson and Liz Truss in Balmoral rather than Buckingham Palace. It comes after the palace announced last week that the Queen would appoint the new prime minister in Balmoral, where she spends her summers, due to mobility issues.
With the nation’s longest reigning monarch just four years away from her 100th birthday and facing ongoing mobility issues, practical adjustments and last-minute changes to the Queen’s diary have become the norm.
The Queen, under whose reign there have been 14 prime ministers before Ms Truss, has had to scale back her public appearances in recent months due to ongoing issues, and also spent a night in hospital last October for an unspecified illness.
Therefore, Ms Truss will make the 1,000-mile round-trip to see the head of state and be appointed prime minister at Balmoral, rather than making the 96-year-old trek back to London from the Scottish Highlands during her summer break.
It is the latest in a number of alterations as the Queen continues her duties in her twilight years.
Her Platinum Jubilee milestone was celebrated with millions taking to the streets during a bumper four-day weekend of national commemorations in June.
The Queen served as the uniting focal point for the extended festivities, delighting crowds as she appeared on the balcony.
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Royal doctors will be on hand to advise and keep a close eye on the monarch’s health, and Buckingham Palace now often only confirms the Queen’s attendance at an event the same morning.
During the pandemic, the Queen’s working life, conducted from the bubble of Windsor Castle, moved online, with audiences with new ambassadors conducted via video calls, and her weekly audiences with her prime minister held as telephone conversations.
The switch to virtual royal duties has proved invaluable given the Queen’s mobility problems and advanced age, and has continued in some areas, despite the fall in Covid cases, and become a permanent feature of the monarch’s diary.
Ms Truss defeated rival Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members on Monday and will inherit one of the most daunting in-trays of any new leader, with Britain on course to enter a lengthy recession due to surging inflation.
The 47-year-old is under pressure to set out an immediate plan to protect millions of households and businesses from the soaring cost of energy, and her plan to borrow billions of pounds to soften the blow and cut taxes has badly rattled financial markets.
She said: “Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead and deliver for our great country.
“I will take bold action to get all of us through these tough times, grow our economy, and unleash the United Kingdom’s potential.”