Queen Elizabeth II resumed public engagements Tuesday after falling ill with Covid, as her son and heir Prince Charles was quoted as saying that she is “a lot better”.
Concerns have mounted for the 95-year-old monarch’s health since she tested positive on February 20, overshadowing the start of her record-breaking 70th year on the throne.
But a palace statement indicated she was now well enough to hold virtual engagements, hosting the new ambassadors of Andorra and Chad from her home at Windsor Castle.
The queen last week cancelled similar scheduled engagements with new ambassadors as she was suffering from what were described as “mild” Covid symptoms.
A diplomatic reception she was also due to attend on Wednesday this week was cancelled on the advice of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Buckingham Palace has said it will not give a running commentary on the head of state’s health, but news that she is undertaking duties again will be seen as a positive.
During a walkabout on a visit to Southend-on-Sea, east of London, a member of the public asked Charles about his mother’s health.
“He said, ‘she’s a lot better now — it was very mild’,” admin worker Janice Jacom, 64, told reporters afterwards.
She described the illness as “very worrying as the queen is getting on a bit but I think she’s absolutely wonderful”.
Charles contracted Covid in early 2020 as the pandemic struck, and tested positive again on February 10 this year, two days after he last met his mother.
His second wife, Camilla, was confirmed to have the virus on February 14.
– ‘Light duties’ –
The queen was forced to slow down on medical advice after spending a night in hospital following unspecified tests in October last year and cancelled a string of engagements.
That included hosting world leaders at last November’s UN climate change summit in Glasgow, while she pulled out of the annual Remembrance Sunday service and the Church of England’s General Synod because of a back complaint.
When she has made public appearances, she has appeared visibly more frail, using a walking stick. Last month she complained at one audience that she was having mobility problems.
Buckingham Palace has repeatedly said she is undertaking “light duties”, thought to centre on reading government policy and other official papers.
She is scheduled to attend the Commonwealth Service at London’s Westminster Abbey on March 14 and a memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, on March 29.
The Duke of Edinburgh died aged 99 in April 2021. The couple had been married for 73 years.
The queen became the first monarch in British history to reign for 70 years on February 6, and public celebrations are planned to mark the event in early June.
Senior members of the royal family are due to visit eight of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK where she is also queen and head of state in the coming weeks.
Her grandson Prince William and his wife Catherine are due to tour Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas in a visit likely to be keenly watched for republican sentiment.
Barbados became the world’s newest republic in November last year, ending its three centuries of association with the UK and the queen as head of state.
Both main political parties in Jamaica back the idea of becoming a republic, and could be spurred into emulating their Caribbean counterparts, royal experts say.
The Platinum Jubilee year has also been overshadowed by the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, who settled a US civil case for sexual assault.
Prince Charles, meanwhile, is under scrutiny after police in London announced a probe into “cash for honours” claims connected to one his charities.