As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and the search for a vaccine remains ongoing, reports citing royal aides have suggested that Queen Elizabeth II may remain at Windsor Castle indefinitely, with the months-long absence from her usual duties set to be the longest in the 68 years of her reign.
Despite plans announced by the UK government to start gradually easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Britain’s monarch may stay in self-isolation “for months”, writes The Sun.
A return to public engagements might be deemed unsafe for Queen Elizabeth II, 94, who has put all public engagements on hold amid the pandemic, residing with her husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle.
Royal biographer Andrew Morton is cited as fearing that is unlikely the Queen will be allowed to return to her normal public duties at all in the foreseeable future, with only TV or video links offering the UK population an opportunity to see Her Majesty.
“It’s terribly sad but I can’t see how the Queen can resume her usual job. The Covid-19 virus isn’t going away soon and will be with us for months, if not years. It would be far too risky for the Queen to start meeting people on a regular basis. How can she carry out investitures, meet ambassadors, do walkabouts and visit places without meeting people at close range?” said Morton.
Courtiers are reportedly gearing up to keep the monarch indoors until at least after the summer, although sources are cited as saying the Queen is reluctant to slow down or stop working. Nonetheless, the monarch is inclined to accept the official advice being extended for people in her age category amid the continuing epidemic.
“If she gets the bug, it could be fatal and would put Prince Philip at risk. Prince Charles is, of course, over 70 himself, but he has had the virus and probably has immunity now. The Queen’s speech last month was brilliant and it brought the country together. To quote Churchill, it was her finest hour, but from now on we are maybe only going to be seeing her on video links,” says the Royal biographer.
Extraordinary safety precautions were reportedly taken to avoid any contact with people outside the monarch’s inner circle when she recorded her COVID-19 address and VE Day speech.
Morton, who penned a book on Princess Diana in 1992 “Diana: Her True Story”, adds:
“We will have a Zoom monarchy, she will be Her Majesty the screen… The touchy-feely way of doing things created by Princess Diana has been stopped in its tracks. We will be back to the days of white gloves and distancing, which makes the royals more remote.”
Meanwhile, the Queen has been receiving Parliamentary updates through her red boxes and in a weekly call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, writes the outlet.
Recently, she gave two public addresses to the nation seeking to boost morale amid the ongoing health crisis – on 5 April and on VE-Day, when she urged the nation to “never give up and despair”.
Royal Diary Emptied
The Queen’s last official engagements were held at Buckingham Palace on 18 March.
Since then, the monarch has been in lockdown with Prince Philip, 98, at Windsor since 19 March, with Buckingham Palace itself to be closed to tourists for the summer in what is thought to be the first time in 27 years – since 1993.
The pandemic has hit all of the traditional social events involving the Queen, such as Trooping the Colour, summer garden parties, the Chelsea Flower Show, the Derby and Royal Ascot.
Other cancelled or postponed events include a state visit from South Africa, granddaughter Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s wedding, due to take place on 29 May at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace, and the Queen’s birthday honours list, due next month.
Other senior royals, including Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been carrying out their duties over the phone and via video calls.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said:
“The Queen continues to be busy and will follow appropriate advice on engagements.”