London: Britain`s Queen Elizabeth II, who has been gradually cutting back on her official duties, stepped down from another ceremonial role this week to let her son and heir Prince Charles take charge.
The 88-year-old monarch reportedly made a last-minute decision not to descend a steep flight of steps at Westminster Abbey in London to take part in an ancient installation ceremony for knights of the Order of the Bath, an event she attends in complete robe and train.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed the role this year would instead be filled by the Prince of Wales, to "lessen the burden on the Queen".
The Queen attended the Westminster Abbey service today and played her part in the ceremonial events but, in a change of plan, was not photographed making an offering of gold and silver coins.
The Order of the Bath is an order of chivalry dating back to 1725 and the Queen is Sovereign Head of the military order while Prince Charles is its Great Master.
It is awarded in the ranks of Knight Grand Cross, Knight Commander and Companion, and services are held every four years with the Queen attending every eight years.
Explaining the decision for Prince Charles to step in, Buckingham Palace stressed that the sovereign`s stall within the Tudor chapel was reached by very steep wooden steps and that the Queen would be wearing her full regalia.
"The decision was taken to lessen the burden of the Queen during the ceremonial service - it`s for the Queen`s comfort coming into and out of the stalls," her spokesperson added.
The ceremony takes its name from the symbolic bathing which in former times was often part of the preparation of a candidate for knighthood.
Services take place in the Abbey`s King Henry VII`s Lady Chapel, where the banners of living knights hang above the stalls.
Buckingham Palace announced two years ago that the Queen was giving up long-haul travel as a concession to her age, but otherwise the Palace has repeatedly insisted the monarch is not scaling back her workload.