BY AFP,London, United Kingdom, Feb 20 – Britain’s 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, a fortnight after marking 70 years on the throne, but aides said her symptoms were “mild”.
The news comes at a stressful time of scandal for the royal family and after Prince Charles, the queen’s eldest son and heir, tested positive on February 10, two days after meeting his mother at Windsor Castle.
No information was given then on whether Queen Elizabeth had taken any Covid tests herself.
She resumed in-person audiences at the castle last week, but complained to one attendee of suffering from stiffness and was photographed holding a walking stick.
“Buckingham Palace confirm that the queen has today tested positive for Covid,” a statement from the palace said.
“Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week,” it said.
“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.”
While normally secretive about the queen’s health, the palace has previously confirmed she is triple-vaccinated against Covid-19.
Britain’s Press Association said “it is understood a number of cases have also been diagnosed among the Windsor Castle team”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing Her Majesty The Queen a swift recovery from Covid and a rapid return to vibrant good health.”
Members of Johnson’s cabinet joined in sending best wishes. Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour party, also tweeted his hopes for “a speedy recovery”, adding: “Get well soon, Ma’am.”
Nationwide celebrations to mark the queen’s Platinum Jubilee are due to be held in June, after she marked 70 years on the throne on February 6.
– ‘Feisty and determined lady’ –
On the eve of the 70th anniversary, the monarch held a reception for locals at Sandringham, her estate in eastern England.
It was reportedly her largest in-person public engagement since an unexplained health issue saw her spend a night in hospital last October.
The Covid scare comes with the royal family mired in scandals.
The queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, settled a sexual assault civil lawsuit in the United States last week, reportedly for £12 million ($16.3 million, 14.3 million euros) — which newspapers claim she will partly fund.
Meanwhile police in London have said they are investigating claims that a Saudi tycoon was offered UK honours in return for donations to Prince Charles’ charitable foundation.
The queen, whose husband Prince Philip died aged 99 last April, has spent much of the coronavirus pandemic at Windsor Castle, with a reduced number of household staff dubbed “HMS Bubble”.
Respecting the government’s then rules on Covid distancing, she sat alone at Philip’s funeral, while Johnson and his staff are under police investigation for apparent breaches of the rules during lockdown parties in Downing Street.
Johnson’s government intends this week to lift remaining legal mandates covering Covid restrictions in England, with infections and hospitalisations from the Omicron wave apparently under control.
The government’s move will be unaffected by the queen’s illness, royal commentator Alastair Bruce said.
“That’s not the nature of how this works. She is not in any way a decision maker or an influencer,” he told Sky News.
“She’ll be informed of them but she would not want anyone to change any decisions on the basis of her state of health.”
Bruce added that the queen would be “very well looked after” by royal physicians.
“I think for a very feisty and determined lady of her mid-90s, she is more than ready to deal with what she faces,” he said.