The Queen will miss this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting for the first time in 40 years, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
Prince Charles will take her place at the event, which takes place every two years when leaders meet to discuss global issues. He will travel to Sri Lanka for the meeting in November, a move that demonstrates that the Prince of Wales is stepping up to the responsibilities of the monarch as the next in line to the throne.
Charles, who is Britain's longest-waiting heir to the throne, has in the past suggested he is "impatient" to fulfill his destiny. And this is a clear sign that some of the Queen's duties are being transferred to her eldest son.
As Head of the Commonwealth, this will be the first meeting that the Queen, 87, will miss since 1973.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "I can confirm that the Queen will be represented by the Prince of Wales." Adding, "The reason is that we are reviewing the amount of long-haul travel that is taken by the Queen."
The decision may be due to the Queen's health. Although she has been looking radiant lately, Her Majesty was admitted to hospital earlier this year suffering from gastroenteritis.
The wider royal family has recently begun to take an increased role in a move to support the Queen. Younger generations represented the Queen overseas as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, including William and Kate's tour of South Asia, Prince Harry's trip to Jamaica and Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall's visit Down Under.
With the next gathering scheduled for 2015, the Queen may not attend another Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in her lifetime. By that time she will be 89 and, unless it is held closer to home, might not be able to take the long-haul trip to be there.
The last meeting that the Queen attended was in Perth, Australia, in 2011. There the Perth Agreement was born, when it was decided that laws governing royal succession would be changed to allow women equal rights of succession. That means that William and Kate’s baby, due in July, will be in line to the throne, including if it is a girl, and boys are born after her.