Where isn't the Queen going?

Here's a very strange story. The Queen, it is widely reported, has cancelled a state visit to "an unnamed country". Immediately the speculation starts: is she ill? Is Prince Philip ill? (He did suffer that back injury).

The Palace stresses "other commitments", which is the usual cop-out for avoiding unpleasant situations.

What's going on? The clue, of course, is in the mystery. The Queen does not ordinarily make state visits to "unnamed countries". State visits are announced several months in advance, usually in the Queen's speech. No such plans were announced in the speech from the Throne made at the State Opening at the beginning of December. She did, however, say that she "looked forward to receiving the President of Mexico".

The obvious conclusion is that the visit has been cancelled for security reasons. My guess would be that the Queen was going to visit Israel - and possibly another country in the Middle East as well - but that in the wake of the Gaza conflict it was no longer deemed appropriate or safe. The Queen has had a standing invitation from the Israelis for many years now, but it remains one of the very few countries she hasn't visited, along with the Republic of Ireland.

But what puzzles me is this: why bother publicly announcing the cancellation of a visit that had not been announced in the first place? Is the palace - or the government - trying to make a point?


Perhaps the royal household want to send reassuring messages to HM the Q's Arab friends? I've no idea if she and Phil really do like the oil sheikhs/princes as much as we're told, but maybe that's somehow involved.

Shall we run a sweepstake on where the Queen officially won't go next?

2-1 Ireland.
4-1 Iran.
11-2 The Earth's Core.
100-1 The Little Chip, Gateshead.
Well, I was close! It was actually Dubai, where Doug McClure and Peter Cushing once fought unconvincing plastic dinosaurs.

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