Queen will carry on with ‘light duties’ despite Covid infection, palace says

The diagnosis follows a string of coronavirus cases among the royal family and the Queen’s Windsor Castle team.

Tony Jones
Sunday 20 February 2022 16:34
The Queen is to continue with light duties despite contracting Covid (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Queen is to continue with light duties despite contracting Covid (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Queen is experiencing “mild cold like symptoms” after testing positive for Covid but expects to be at her desk carrying out “light duties”, Buckingham Palace has said.

Concerns for the Queen, 95, will be heightened given her age and recent health scare but it appears the head of state is determined to carry out what tasks she can despite contracting the virus.

The diagnosis follows a string of Covid cases among the royal family and the Queen’s Windsor Castle team, with the Prince of Wales meeting the monarch the week he tested positive, and the Duchess of Cornwall also isolating after contracting the virus.

The shock announcement was made just a few weeks after the nation’s longest-reigning monarch reached her historic Platinum Jubilee of 70 years on the throne on February 6.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “Buckingham Palace confirm that The Queen has today tested positive for Covid.

“Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.

“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.

The Royal Household has its own royal physicians and the Queen’s doctors will be on hand to take care of and monitor the head of state, with Professor Sir Huw Thomas, head of the Medical Household and Physician to the Queen, expected to be in charge.

Charles pictured hosting an investiture ceremony on the day he met the Queen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It is understood the Queen is following Covid guidelines on self-isolating after testing positive but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to repeal all pandemic regulations that restrict public freedoms in England when he lays out his vision for the future on Monday.

The Queen is believed to be triple vaccinated but until recently had been on doctors’ orders to rest since mid October, after cancelling a run of engagements and spending a night in hospital undergoing preliminary tests.

Just a few weeks ago, the monarch had begun to resume her normal duties, hosting at Sandringham her largest reception in months, on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee anniversary, and a few days later held her first in-person audience with the Prime Minister in many weeks.

She now regularly uses a stick and recently commented about her mobility issues telling two senior military officers during a Windsor Castle reception “Well, as you can see, I can’t move,” when asked how she was.

It is likely the Queen will be working from her red boxes, sent to her every day and containing policy papers, Foreign Office telegrams, letters and other State papers from Government ministers and Commonwealth representatives that have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.

The Queen at work in the new image released on day she reign reaches 70 years. Chris Jackson/Buckingham Palace via Getty Images

Earlier the Queen sent a message of congratulations to Team GB women’s curling team who became Winter Olympic champions after the men’s team won silver, but it is not known if she had tested positive at the time the words were signed off.

She told them: “I know that your local communities and people throughout the United Kingdom will join me in sending our good wishes to you, your coaches and the friends and family who have supported you in your great success.”

The Queen is believed to have spent time with Charles on Tuesday February 8, when he hosted an investiture at her Windsor Castle home, and a few days later he tested positive for Covid but made a quick recovery to full health.

Camilla has also tested positive for Covid, with Clarence House confirming on Monday February 14 that the duchess was self isolating.

It is the second time the future king has caught the virus, with Charles contracting Covid in March 2020 when he had mild symptoms, lost his sense of smell and taste and isolated at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate.

The Queen, whose husband the Duke of Edinburgh died 10 months ago, spent much of the pandemic in the safety of Windsor Castle, protected in “HMS Bubble”, the nickname given to her reduced household of dedicated staff.

The monarch, who for almost two years avoided contracting Covid, has served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation weeks apart.

She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”

But, amid the worst public health crisis for generations, she bade a sad farewell to Philip, her companion of 73 years, who died aged 99 in April 2021.

The Queen sat alone at his funeral during Covid restrictions.

People in Wandsworth, London, watch Queen deliver her Covid address to the nation (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Elizabeth II is the first British monarch in history to reach her Platinum Jubilee, and plans are in motion for a host of national festivities in June to mark the occasion.

Her reign has stretched from the post-war years through a new millennium and into a radically altered 21st century.

Her time on the throne has seen 14 prime ministers from the Second World War leader, Sir Winston Churchill, to Boris Johnson.

In her twilight years, she has been setting her affairs in order, using her Jubilee message to endorse her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall, once a royal mistress, to be Queen Camilla and crowned at Charles’s side when he one day becomes King.

The Queen is the latest monarch from around the world to catch Covid.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark, 82, and Spain’s King Felipe VI, 54, both tested positive for the illness on February 9.

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