Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: AFP

Queen Elizabeth II to miss Commonwealth meeting

Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II will skip the Commonwealth heads of government meeting - the first time she’s missed the biennial session since 1971.

The queen has long been a major supporter of the 54-nation Commonwealth, and her decision to send Prince Charles to the November meeting is seen as a reflection of her age and of efforts to reduce her long-distance travel.

The 87-year-old monarch was briefly hospitalized for a stomach illness earlier this year. She has rarely taken time off for illness, having carried out more than 400 official engagements last year - ranging from meetings with the prime minister to ceremonial gatherings.

One of her first public engagements after her illness was to sign a new charter setting out the Commonwealth’s commitment to equal rights.