Queen Elizabeth opens parliament alongside son, Prince Charles and Camilla

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the Queen's Speech in the House of Lord's Chamber during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth is marking her first official engagement outside of Windsor Castle since the death of her husband Prince Philip.

On Tuesday, the monarch, 95, attended the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster. She was accompanied by her son and heir, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who arrived separately from the Queen.

The Queen — in a lavender colored day dress and matching hat rather than the full ceremonial dress and crown — poignantly sat alone on a Throne in the House of Lords. Her son and Camilla (both in masks) seated a few yards to her left. The Imperial State Crown, signifying the regalia of the Head of State, was placed on a table next to her.

Charles, 72, and Camilla, 73, have escorted the Queen to the formal ceremony before, but Tuesday’s event will take on a new significance as it will clearly underline how the senior royals are stepping in to be alongside her at key moments in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death last month.

Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen at the State Opening of Parliament

A former senior aide at the palace previously told PEOPLE, “Her family will step up and be by her side, but she will carry on. She understands that she has a job to do, and [Philip] would have wanted her to crack on. She did do so when he retired from public life.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Britain's Prince Charles

A close royal insider added, “She will never abdicate because of duty and honor and public service is so deep in her, as it was for him.”

The State Opening of Parliament is a key moment in the political and constitutional calendar as it sees the Sovereign, as head of state, outline the main legislation that the serving U.K. Government (led currently by Prime Minister Boris Johnson) wishes to introduce over the coming months. As she set out the U.K.’s Government’s priorities for the coming months in the 10 minute speech, she begun by saying the administration’s priority is to deliver a post-COVID recovery.

And with COVID-19 in mind, there were fewer lawmakers and staffers in the Palace of Westminster to hear the Queen’s Speech.  The scaled-back occasion is lacking much of its usual pomp and ceremony. The Queen is not in full regalia of state and was driven by car from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament rather than making her way in a carriage.

The ceremonial occasion begun with the arrival of the Imperial State Crown in its own royal car, which left Buckingham Palace at 11 a.m. local time.

Queen Elizabeth II walks behind the Imperial State Crown as they process through the Royal Gallery

The Queen left the palace at around 11.20am, and arrived at the Houses of Parliament, entering via through the Sovereign’s Entrance for what the BBC said is the Queen’s 67th State Opening of Parliament (which don’t take place every year).

She walked through the Royal Gallery, with 17 peers (who are unelected) and 17 Members of Parliament (elected representatives) were seated on each side of the gallery to welcome her and her procession. Her son Charles held her hand as they walked slowly through the gallery, passing a portrait of the late Prince Philip. The Imperial State Crown was carried a few paces ahead of them.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives with Prince Charles

There used to be a pair of thrones for the Queen and her consort — until the last few years, and his retirement from public life, that would be Philip. More recently it would be Charles sitting next to her. But this year, two seats were prepared for Charles and Camilla — who made their way to the service from Clarence House, their official London home — and they sat a few feet from the Queen to her left.

Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech on the The Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords chamber

The Royal Standard flew above Westminster signifying that she had arrived at around 11.25 am.

PEOPLE