Buckingham Palace released a statement shortly before the Queen’s intended departure to say that the monarch had “reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days.”The Queen, 95, had remained in “good spirits”, if “disappointed” that she could not fulfill her royal duties, added the Palace. It said: “The Queen sends her warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland, and looks forward to visiting in the future.”
However, royal sources hinted that the official line could be a “smokescreen” for security concerns, with a security expert pointing out her trip had been extensively reported in Belfast.
One royal expert spoke to MailOnline, claiming: “Even before the trip, royal sources were citing the Northern Ireland security protocols and refusing to confirm the details.
“But at the same time, her itinerary was known by everyone in Ireland.
“It’s very odd that on the very day the Queen is said to be told to rest under doctor’s orders that she’s seen out and about driving and with her dogs.
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“Maybe she did wake up with a head cold, but given the security concerns and the political hot potato the Armagh service had become, perhaps that cold was very well timed?”
Her Majesty, during the two-day trip, was due to attend the ecumenical service in Armagh, Northern Ireland.
The service was to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in attendance on Thursday at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland in Armagh, joined by politicians from both sides of the Irish border, with the notable exception of Irish President Michael D. Higgins.
Mr Higgins’s refusal to attend the service of “reflection and hope” was blasted by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, saying that President Higgins’s snub of the service has “set back north-south relations” in Ireland.
Chris Phillips, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said it was unusual to have royal itineraries so widely available for trips to Northern Ireland.
He added: “Of course, the situation there is not like it was 20 years ago, but when you see it reported that the Queen’s going to be at a certain place on a certain day, that’s as dangerous as it gets.”
Her Majesty’s arrival in Northern Ireland had been previewed in the Irish times a month earlier, with details of her visit appearing in the Belfast Telegraph.
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Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk: “This cancellation will be of great regret to the Queen, who intensely dislikes disappointing people.”
Since her Majesty ended her annual summer break at Balmoral on October 1, she has maintained a hectic calendar, appearing at numerous royal engagements.
The Queen hosted a Global Investment Summit from her home at Windsor on Tuesday evening, with guests including Boris Johnson and John Kerry, President Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate.
Also on Tuesday, she spoke with the Japanese ambassador, Hajime Hayashi, and EU ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida, and on Monday she welcomed the incoming New Zealand governor-general, Dame Cindy Kiro, into her position.
Also enjoying the races at Ascot over the weekend, the Queen has nonetheless prompted worries in royal fans after being spotted using a walking aid for the first time in decades at photographed events.
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