Queen scales back long-haul travel

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, greet the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan at Windsor Castle in southern England. REUTERS/Oli Scarff
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, greet the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan at Windsor Castle in southern England. REUTERS/Oli Scarff
Far-flung Commonwealth countries such as Australia now appear off-limits for the Queen after Buckingham Palace confirmed it was reviewing her long-haul royal trips.

In a significant move, the 87-year-old will miss the Commonwealth summit for the first time in 40 years, with Prince Charles set to travel to Sri Lanka in November in her place.

It is the first time since 1971 the Queen has not attended a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

In a gradual move to cut down the ageing monarch's foreign trips, it's expected Charles will step in for future long-distance visits, like he and other royals did during the Diamond Jubilee year.

Queen Elizabeth II last visited Australia in 2011 and many expected then her 16th visit to the Commonwealth country would be her last.

A palace spokesman told AAP on Tuesday another trip down under could not be ruled in or out but confirmed all overseas engagements would now be carefully considered.

"This is part of an ongoing process of looking at the Queen's long-haul travel arrangements," the spokesman said.

"The Queen did not travel overseas at all last year but other members of her family represented her during the engagements overseas.

"... All of the Queen's engagements of long-haul would certainly be looked at in light of various items, most importantly the Queen being 87."

The Palace stressed the Queen remained in good health.

"The Queen's diary is still a very busy one," the spokesman said.

Respected royals commentator Richard Fitzwilliams applauded the move but said the Queen's remarkable stamina meant long distance visits in the future could not be totally ruled out.

"As age approaches you get limitations and obviously it's only sensible to take account of these," Mr Fitzwilliams told AAP.

"... There's no question she will do what she can but it would undoubtedly be sensible to expect the royal duties the Queen undertakes to be closer to home on the whole.

"I wouldn't rule out anything if you remember the remarkable tenacity of the monarch, but it is clearly a sign that it's important to pace it."

 

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