The first major investiture ceremony since the pandemic began will go ahead at St James’s Palace on Wednesday – with significant changes brought in to keep the event Covid secure.

Insignia will not be pinned on by the Prince of Wales but instead will be collected by the recipients from a cushion.

Those being honoured will also have to wear masks as they move around the Palace, but can remove their face coverings in the Throne Room where the actual ceremony is taking place.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
There will be no pinning of insignia (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Numbers have been scaled back with the prince set to greet 32 recipients, rather than around 100 as would have been the norm in pre-pandemic times.

Recipients, who will collect honours ranging from knighthoods to MBEs, are only permitted to bring one guest, but the family member, partner or friend will also get the chance to meet heir-to-the-throne Charles.

During traditional investitures, each recipient would have approached the prince or hosting royal on their own, and up to three guests would have watched, seated at a distance with scores of other spectators.

But during the pandemic, those being honoured will enter the Throne Room one at time, joined by their guest who will also meet and speak to Charles.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Baroness Benjamin is made a Dame Commander by the Prince of Wales in March 2020 (Yui Mok/PA)

There will be no audience present but the investiture is expected to be shown on large screens to those waiting their turn in the adjacent Queen Anne room – another of the State Rooms.

There will also be no hanging around and mingling afterwards. Those attending will depart after collecting their honour, and seating will be socially distanced.

Those attending are required to bring proof of a negative lateral flow Covid test to ensure entry and be subject to a temperature check on arrival.

There will also be reduced numbers of ceremonial and support staff present, and family portrait and media facilities remain, but in more limited numbers.

Investitures are usually a key part of the royal calendar, but there have been no major ones for 15 months, since before the start of England’s first national lockdown.

Royal reception for British Red Cross volunteers
The Prince of Wales speaking at a reception in St James’s Palace in 2017 (John Stillwell/PA)

The ceremony will take place despite the delay to the June 21 easing of restrictions following concerns over the rapidly spreading Delta variant first identified in India.

“The arrangements have been made in full consultation with Public Health England and Government to ensure they are Covid compliant, in line with current guidelines,” a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.

In March 2020, the Queen was pictured wearing gloves for the first time at a palace investiture, when the total number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the UK was 51.

It was before the UK was in the grip of coronavirus, and the head of the World Health Organisation was advising people over the age of 60 to avoid crowded areas.

Buckingham Palace is normally the venue for investitures but this first event is being held at St James’s Palace because of the ongoing work to update the services at the Queen’s official London home.