This year's Commonwealth Day got off to a disappointing start when the Queen, recovering from a recent bout of gastroenteritis, pulled out of Westminster Abbey's ceremony after delivering her annual Commonwelath address.
The news came as the monarch's doctors advised her not to sit through the hour-long church service, which last year marked the first official engagement on the Diamond Jubilee schedule.
Despite the Queen's absence, the Palace said she would still attend an evening reception scheduled later in the day.
A statement issued by the sovereign's press secretary said: "The Queen will regrettably no longer attend the Commonwealth Observance at Westminster Abbey today as she continues to recover following her recent illness.
"The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the Observance as planned.
"However, Her Majesty will still attend the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House this evening to sign a new Commonwealth Charter.
"The Queen hopes to undertake some of her official engagements planned for the rest of this week."
The Commonwealth is an organisation made up of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. The Queen is still head of state for some of them, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
She takes her role as figurehead of the 54 Commonwealth states extremely seriously so her absence suggests that stomach virus gastroenteritis – the condition which forced her to spend a night at King Edward VII Hospital – is having a considerable impact on her ability to carry out engagements.