The Queen may remain in self-isolation ‘for months’ and never return to regular frontline royal duties as the government looks to ease the coronavirus lockdown over the coming weeks.
Her Majesty, 98, who has put all her public engagements on hold as she resides with her husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle, may not be allowed to return to her public duties due to the risk of catching Covid-19 ‘for years’ to come.
The claims come as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson today set out a tentative three-stage ‘exit plan’ and urged the country to return to work in a TV address to the nation from Downing Street.
Royal biographer Andrew Morton, 66, told The Sun that he feared the Queen, whose schedule is not expected to resume until the autumn, may never be able to return to her regular duties and will most likely be seen on TV or video links rather than in public.
Her Majesty, 98, may not be allowed to return to her public duties ‘for years’ due to the risk of catching coronavirus
The monarch, who is currently residing with her husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle, continues to receive her daily red boxes of Government papers
Royal biographer Andrew Morton fears the monarch may not be able to return to her regular frontline duties as it would be ‘far too risky’
He told the paper: ‘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.’
The writer, who penned Diana: Her True Story in 1992, added that while the royal enjoyed meeting the public, such gatherings would pose a risk to both herself and Prince Philip who turns 99 next month.
Earlier today a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said the monarch continues to be ‘busy’, conducting a weekly audience with the Prime Minister by phone and receiving her daily red boxes of Government papers.
They added that Her Majesty will ‘follow appropriate advice on engagements’ and is keeping in touch with her family by phone and video calls.
Today The Sunday Times reported that Buckingham Palace will be closed for the summer for what is believed to be the first time in 27 years, with events including Trooping the Colour and Her Majesty’s garden parties cancelled.
It is believed to be the 94-year-old monarch’s longest absence from her official duties in her 68 year reign, with her schedule not expected to resume until into the autumn at the earliest.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been isolated there with a reduced household since March 19. The monarch usually returns from Windsor to her central London residence in May before her annual break at Balmoral in July, which is also expected not to go ahead.
A state visit from South Africa is also on hold for the time being, while investitures will be rearranged to later dates.
The Queen – who delivered an electrifying speech on VE Day praising Britain’s spirit during lockdown – has said in the past that she feels she has ‘to be seen to be believed’, so the measures are expected to be felt deeply by the monarch.
Her last public engagement was the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March – which was also Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s final official appearance as senior members of the Royal Family.
A royal source told the publication: ‘The Queen won’t do anything which goes against the advice of people in her [age] category and she’s going to take all the appropriate advice… she’d want to be seen to be being responsible in her actions.’
The Queen (pictured addressing the nation on VE Day on Friday) is conducting a weekly audience with the Prime Minister by phone and receiving her daily red boxes of Government paper
The Queen usually hosts three garden parties at her London home, with charities hosting another two, and a further one is held in July at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland.
The garden parties, during which 27,000 cups of tea are served, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cakes are consumed by 30,000 people from all walks of life, have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s.
Last month there were no gun salutes to mark the Queen’s 94th birthday for the first time since she was crowned, and Government buildings were exempt from flying flags if it created a problem.
Elizabeth II said she did not feel gun salutes would be appropriate in the circumstances of the crisis.
At that point Covid-19 had claimed more than 15,000 lives in Britain.
That figure is now more than double at 31,855, after Britain announced a further 269 deaths today.
The Queen usually hosts three garden parties at her London home, with charities hosting another two, and a further one is held in July at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. Pictured: the Queen at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2018
In line with Government advice to avoid mass gatherings, the ceremonial of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle are postponed until further notice.
With the outbreak making church services impossible, the Queen delivered what was believed to be her first Easter address, which had the resolute message: ‘We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.’
That sentiment was echoed in her speech on VE Day, during which she said: ‘When I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.
‘Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.’
The wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, due to take place on May 29 at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace, followed by a private reception hosted by the Queen in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, has also been postponed.
Other significant events in the royal calendar which have been cancelled include Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship event of the summer.
Other significant events in the royal calendar which have been cancelled include Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship event of the summer. Pictured: the Queen takes a tour of the Duchess of Cambridge’s Back to Nature Garden at the show in 2019
Royal Ascot in June, believed to have been attended every year by the Queen during her reign, has also been called off this year.
In a statement, Guy Henderson, chief executive of the Ascot Racecourse, said: ‘For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusions that Royal Ascot 2020… will not be able to take place as an event open to the public.’
The Royal Windsor Horse Show this month, another horse-related event close to the monarch’s heart, which features show jumping and dressage, will also not be going ahead.
Royal Ascot in June, believed to have been attended every year by the Queen during her reign, has also been called off this year. Pictured: The Queen at Ascot in June 2019
The 2020 Invictus Games, due to be held in The Hague, has been postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19, with Prince Harry marking what would have been the opening ceremony with a video message shared on the event’s Twitter account yesterday.
The games brings together current and former wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women from more than 20 countries.
The Duke of Sussex said: ‘As we commemorate VE Day this weekend and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation, we should have also been gathering together in the Netherlands to kickstart the Invictus Games 2020 in The Hague.
Events in the royal calendar cancelled due to Covid-19
Queen’s traditional birthday gun salutes
Queen’s planned visits to Cheshire and Camden
Prince Charles and Camilla’s spring tour to Cyprus and Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Japanese state visit to the UK
Annual Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel – April 9
Changing of the Guard
Grand National at Aintree
75th anniversary of VE Day commemorative events
Buckingham Palace Garden Parties
Royal Windsor Horse Show
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Princess Beatrice’s wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
The annual Order of the Garter Service at Windsor Castle
Trooping the Colour
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda
RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
Queen’s Garden Party at Palace of Holyroodhouse
Summer opening of Buckingham Palace
‘Life has changed dramatically for all of us since I was last in The Hague, but the IG 2020 team has done an incredible job to adapt so quickly to the situation, and they are busy putting plans in place for next year.
‘The new dates will be shared with you very soon. I hope that all of those in the Invictus family are coping well and supporting each other through this challenging time.’
The annual Braemar Gathering on September 5, traditionally attended by Her Majesty in her role as patron of the Highland games event held near Balmoral at The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park, has also been cancelled on safety grounds.
It has been running in its current form since 1832 and includes competitions such as tossing the caber, a tug of war and hammer throwing.
Wimbledon, traditionally attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has been cancelled next month for the first time since the Second World War.
The Queen has witnessed many turbulent times during her reign, but even she confessed of the global Covid-19 pandemic: ‘While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.’