LONDON, March 11, 2013— -- Queen Elizabeth II is set to make history later today when she signs a new charter taking a stand against discrimination, which some have interpreted as tacit support of gay rights.
The 86-year-old matriarch will sign the agreement at a reception this evening to show her support. With the stroke of the pen, the queen will be making a symbolic pledge for equal rights for billions of people in 54 countries in the British Commonwealth around the world.
The Commonwealth Charter states opposition to "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds."
"This is believed to be the first time she's shown her support of gay rights. That's a big step," ABC News royal contributor Victoria Arbiter said.
The queen, who is recovering from gastroenteritis after being hospitalized last week, cancelled an event at Westminster Abbey marking Commonwealth Day, but will attend an evening reception to sign the charter, according to the Palace.
The charter is still only a symbolic step for many of the 54 countries because homosexuality is still illegal in 41 of the nations in the British Commonwealth.
Embodying centuries of stuffy royal tradition, Britain's head of state has recently learned to relax a little, showing she's moving with the times. But never in her 61 years as monarch has she done anything like this before.
"The queen has to remain politically neutral," Arbiter said. "While we won't hear her personal views on this, the fact that she is endorsing it publically in front of television cameras, it really does speak volumes."
Reading between the lines, the British papers are also hailing this as a watershed moment for the new rules of succession.
The timing couldn't be any better with the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, giving birth this summer. By signing this pledge, the queen is giving a silent nod to the changes.
If Middleton has a baby girl, her daughter will one day be the queen.