By DANICA KIRKA
LONDON (AP) — Members of Britain’s royal family attended a Friday church service honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne, although the queen herself is skipping the event at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London due to difficulty getting around at age 96.
The service of thanksgiving is taking place on the second of four days of festivities celebrating the queen’s Platinum Jubilee. On Thursday, thousands of royal supporters cheered wildly as the queen joined other senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch 70 British military aircraft fly past.
The queen decided not to attend Friday’s church service after experiencing “some discomfort” during Thursday’s events. She will watch the event unfold on television as Prince Charles stands in for her.
The congregation at St. Paul’s include members of the royal family, senior politicians, diplomats and more than 400 essential workers, charity volunteers and members of the armed forces who have been invited in recognition of their service to the community.
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell is set to deliver a sermon. Cottrell stepped in after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tested positive for COVID-19. The service will begin and end with the tolling of Great Paul, the largest church bell in Britain.
Friday’s televised church service brought the first public appearance by Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, during their visit to Britain for the jubilee.
The couple, who gave up royal duties and moved to California two years ago, kept a low profile Thursday, appearing only in photographs shot through the windows of the building from which members of the royal family watched the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
But on Friday they were back center stage. As Harry and Meghan proceeded on their own down the long nave of the cathedral, people inside the church craned their necks to watch them.
Follow AP’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii
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