‘One is working mechanically’: Her Majesty comes up with novel way of describing WFH as she presents a poetry award over video call while recuperating from hospital stay that forced her to cancel COP26 visit
- Her Majesty beamed as she virtually presented David Constantine with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry
- Wearing a floral dress, the monarch looked in good spirits as she appeared from Windsor Castle
- English poet Mr Constantine was accompanied by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage
- Buckingham Palace announced earlier this week that the Queen would not be going to Cop26 summit
- She had earlier had preliminary tests in hospital after cancelling a trip to Northern Ireland
The Queen yesterday presented a poetry award via video link from Windsor Castle as she appeared for the second time after spending time in hospital and pulling out of the Cop26 summit.
Her Majesty beamed as she virtually presented English poet David Constantine – who was at Buckingham Palace – with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry yesterday afternoon.
Wearing a floral dress and a pearl necklace, the monarch looked in good spirits as she spoke to Mr Constantine – who was accompanied by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage – on video conferencing platform WebEx.
She told him: ‘I’m very glad to have the chance to see you if only mechanically this morning. Mr Armitage was then seen shaking his fellow poet’s hand as he gave him the award and said ‘very well done, congratulations.’
Her Majesty then joked: ‘I don’t know what you do with it. Do you put it in a cupboard?’
Her appearance via a Cisco Webex video call came came two days after she held a virtual Audience for the ambassadors from the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
The Queen is continuing to recuperate following her stay in hospital last week after cancelling a trip to Northern Ireland.
Earlier this week, Buckingham Palace also announced that she would not be attending the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, sparking fears about the state of Her Majesty’s health.
Yesterday, royal experts suggested that there could now be a ‘reassessment and possibly a slight gear change in the kind of work the Queen does’.
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The Queen today presented a poetry award over a video call from Windsor Castle as she appeared for the second time after spending time in hospital and pulling out of the Cop26 summit
Announcing The Queen’s engagement today, Buckingham Palace said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen today conducted a virtual Audience via video link from Windsor Castle.
‘Mr. David Constantine was received by The Queen this afternoon via video link when Her Majesty presented him with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
‘The Poet Laureate, Professor Simon Armitage, was present.’
In response to Her Majesty’s question about what he would do with the award, Mr Constantine said he would put it ‘somewhere safe’.
He added: ‘This evening I shall show it to my children and grandchildren, who are waiting in our house’
The Queen then replied: ‘Ah right, well that will be nice. It is rather a nice medal isn’t it?’
Mr Constantine, 77, is also a novelist and writer of short stories. He has published several poetry collections, including ‘Collected Poems’ in 2004 and ‘Elder’ in 2014.
The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry was was instituted in 1933 by King George V with the recipient chosen by a committee chaired by the Poet Laureate. Previous winners include John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes.
Her Majesty will continue to work behind the scenes while next week’s climate change summit takes place in Glasgow and record a video message – but there could now be a chance in the distances she travels in future.
It comes amid fears for the health of Queen – who will film a video message which will be broadcast to delegates in Glasgow – after she was forced to cancel a visit to Northern Ireland at the 11th hour last Wednesday.
Palace sources insisted that her decision not to travel to Scotland was simply a ‘sensible precaution’ in light of her doctor’s advice to rest and that she was determined the conference should be a success.
Another source said it would have been ‘unwise’ for the Queen to make the 800-mile round trip from Windsor to Glasgow for the major event which aims to agree crucial global action on climate change.
Royal expert Roya Nikkhah said yesterday: ‘We had some quite interesting background guidance yesterday from royal sources saying that although she’s not going to be there in person, she is going to filming this video address this week and she is going to be working behind the scenes to make sure there are meaningful actions.
‘And I thought what was really interesting was the guidance we had that she’s very keen that other world leaders and heads of state don’t use her absence as an excuse not to attend. So she’s following it very, very closely.’
Her Majesty beamed as she virtually presented English poet David Constantine – who was at Buckingham Palace – with The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry yesterday afternoon
Ms Nikkah, royal editor of the Sunday Times, who was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, added: ‘It’s quite a trip for a 95-year-old and she’s had this incredibly packed both public and private diary for a few weeks, which has obviously left her pretty tired.
‘And I think the feeling probably was – we don’t know, because we’re not doctors – but the feeling probably was from her doctors it was a little bit much for her to go up and do all that.
‘And it’s not just the travel – it’s also being on. It’s also entertaining and hosting world leaders, talking to them about climate change and all of that – I think the feeling probably is that’s just a little bit too much at the moment until she’s back to full strength.’
She continued: ‘I think there will be a reassessment and possibly a slight gear change in the kind of work the Queen does, the distances she travels, but I don’t think we will see – all being well, if the Queen is able to continue with public duties as we hope that she will be – I think we will still see her out and about as much as she and her doctors feel she can – but I think there will be a gear change, and her private secretaries and her diary secretaries looking at engagements that come in and thinking what does Her Majesty the Queen really need to be at, and what does she feel she really can do. So I think there will be a constant review going forwards now.’
The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry presented to David Constantine at Buckingham Palace, London, during a virtual audience by Queen Elizabeth II
Duchess of Cornwall chats to Geri Horner and Alexandra Burke at St James’s Palace reception for winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
The Duchess Of Cornwall appeared in high spirits as she met with Alexadra Bruke and Geri Horner to host a reception for the winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition today.
Celebrating the world’s oldest international writing competition for schools, the Duchess stepped out at St James’ Palace in London to award winners and runners up with their certificates.
Camilla, 74, cut an elegant figure in navy suit and warmly greeted 49-year-old Spice Girl Geri Horner, who looked stunning in a long-sleeved white silk dress, decorated with silver embellishes and button detailing.
In October 2019, the singer attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace before being named an inaugural for the Royal Commonwealth Society. She also attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March last year.
Announcing the Cop26 decision, Buckingham Palace said earlier this week: ‘Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle.
‘Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26 on Monday, November 1.
‘Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.’
The palace has still not explained why the Queen was taken to hospital last week. After it was announced she had cancelled the Northern Ireland visit, the palace initially said the monarch was resting at Windsor.
It was only 36 hours later, after news had leaked out, that a spokesman confirmed she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s hospital in London for ‘preliminary investigations’.
Aides had hoped that the head of state would be well enough to lead the Royal Family at the summit, either in person or via video-link.
And earlier on Tuesday she returned to work at Windsor, where she is resting on doctors’ orders, for the first time since last week.
The pictures show her face on a computer screen as she greeted the new ambassador from the Republic of Korea, Gunn Kim, who was at Buckingham Palace. She also spoke to the new Swiss ambassador, Markus Leitner.
The Queen’s decision not to attend Cop26 will be a blow to organisers.
There are few people on the world stage who command the same respect and authority as the British monarch.
With the head of state missing from the event, it is hoped no world leaders will use her absence as a reason not to attend the summit.
It previously emerged that Xi Jinping – president of China, now the planet’s biggest polluter – is skipping the much-anticipated conference.
The Royal Family will still be represented by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge – both of whom have strong environmental campaigning credentials – as well as the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Senior royal aides said the Queen will be working hard behind the scenes to make the summit a success.
She will film her video message at Windsor Castle later this week and has let it be known that she ‘very much wants Cop26 to be a success and see meaningful actions’.
Today’s engagement came two days after the The Queen was photographed at Windsor Castle as she spoke to the South Korean ambassador and also held an audience the ambassador from Switzerland, Markus Leitner
Earlier this month she criticised world leaders’ inaction on addressing the climate change crisis.
At a reception following the official opening of the Welsh parliament, the Queen referred to Cop26 and said: ‘I’ve been hearing all about Cop… still don’t know who is coming. No idea. We only know about people who are not coming… It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.’
A palace source told the Mail that the Queen was being ‘cautious and sensible’ by changing her plans.
‘Her Majesty is following advice – rest and light duties,’ they said. ‘She remains in good spirits. Her Majesty had audiences today and is expecting a call with the Chancellor this evening, as is the norm before the Budget. There are other light engagements in the diary.’
The monarch is being carefully looked after by the Medical Household, her team of royal physicians, but the Mail revealed last week that she had carried out 19 engagements in October – a phenomenal workload for a woman of her age.
Two weeks ago she was forced to start using a walking stick in public for the first time – a stark reminder of her advancing years.
And last Tuesday the monarch was on her feet for almost an hour when she held a lavish reception for guests including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and US climate envoy John Kerry, where she looked bright and cheerful.
Buckingham Palace said she ‘remains in good spirits’, though a royal source told The Sunday Times: ‘She is knackered.’
And an insider told the Mail: ‘Her private office will constantly look at her diary and tweak it as and when is necessary.’
It also emerged that the Queen, who is deeply religious and rarely does not attend church, missed prayers at Windsor’s All Saints Chapel in Windsor on Sunday.
She has been resting following medical advice to cancel her two-day trip to Northern Ireland.
The Queen had a busy schedule of engagements in the first weeks of October following her return from Balmoral.
Her hospital stay was kept a secret and only confirmed by the Palace when it was revealed by a newspaper.
It is highly unusual that any major engagement would be cancelled at the last minute, suggesting that staff are taking no chances with the elderly head of state’s health.
She has faced a tumultuous 18 months, including the death of the Duke of Edinburgh as well as the acrimonious departure of Prince Harry and wife Meghan.
October 10 — Queen Elizabeth II is seen on her way to The Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor as she returns to church
The Queen still keeps a busy diary of events and audiences and deals with her daily red boxes of official papers.
Since she returned to Windsor from her summer break at Balmoral, the Queen has carried out 15 engagements, listed in the Court Circular, including her audiences, plus an additional trip to Ascot.
Senior aides at Buckingham Palace are scrambling to devise a strategy for managing the Queen’s workload after being accused of misleading the public over her health.
Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, last night faced calls to ‘be ruthless’ and purge the Monarch’s diary of functions not central to her role as head of state.
Officials are understood to be drawing up a ‘core’ list of key events that the Queen will prioritise in the next 12 months, including the Platinum Jubilee to celebrate her 70-year reign in June.
It comes amid reports the Queen will be accompanied by one of her children or grandchildren when she appears in public in the future to avoid having to cancel and let down the public in the event of future health scares.
Another member of the Royal Family will be on hand to step in should she need company or assistance, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Meanwhile, the Palace’s communications team is under pressure to be more candid should the 95-year-old Monarch require further visits to hospital.
The Queen’s courtiers faced extensive criticism last week for failing to inform the public that she had been admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Wednesday and stayed there overnight for tests.
October 6 — Queen Elizabeth II gestures as she meets members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery to mark the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of A and B Batteries, at Windsor Castle
The media was told that she was resting at Windsor Castle and aides revealed the hospital stay only on Thursday night after news leaked out. The controversy has shone a spotlight on the growing challenge faced by the Palace in balancing the Queen’s desire to be an active head of state with needing to protect her health.
Royal sources say the easing of Covid restrictions has resulted in a logjam of public events, adding pressure on the Queen’s diary.
According to Buckingham Palace’s Court Circular, she has held 13 separate audiences or meetings, attended seven major events and travelled almost 900 miles since leaving Balmoral on October 1.
In addition, every day she still reads Government papers, delivered to her in red boxes, and has a long list of private meetings.
‘They have to find some kind of balance,’ said Sally Bedell Smith, who has written a bestselling biography of the Queen.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen’s autumn schedule had been more crammed than expected, but last-minute cancellations were inevitable in the future.
‘Every now and again there will be this reminder that she is 95 and she can’t do what was expected of her 10, 20 years ago,’ Mr Little said.
Last week the BBC’s veteran Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell faced a backlash last night after questioning whether Buckingham Palace undermined public trust by failing to reveal the Queen had been admitted to hospital.
In forthright comments, Mr Witchell said that journalists and the public had not been ‘given the complete picture’.
He added: ‘The problem, it seems to me, is that rumour and misinformation always thrive in the absence of proper, accurate and trustworthy information.’
But his remarks provoked criticism online. ‘Nicholas Witchell is honestly so infuriating,’ one Royal watcher wrote on Twitter. ‘The Queen is 95 and like most her age, she’ll be in and out of hospital for various tests because that’s what happens at that age no matter how fit you are. She doesn’t need to disclose her every move, let her have some dignity.’
October 4 — The Queen is shown the baton that will carry her personal message at Buckingham Palace in London ahead of the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
October 2 — Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall looks on at the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament
The Queen was seen using a walking stick for the first time at a major engagement during a Westminster Abbey service on October 12.
On Thursday October 21, she was said to be in ‘good spirits’ after her hospital stay and back at her desk, undertaking light duties. But she missed a church service at Windsor on Sunday.
Royal sources had briefed the Sunday Times that the Queen was ‘knackered’ due to a busy social life and preference for late night television, as having a hectic run of engagements in October.
The Queen’s husband of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh died six months ago at the age of 99.
Buckingham Palace would not comment on whether the monarch has received her booster Covid-19 jab, but given her age it is likely she has already had it.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty The Queen today conducted two virtual audiences via video link from Windsor Castle.
‘His Excellency Mr Gunn Kim was received in audience by The Queen today via video link and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from the Republic of Korea to the Court of St James’s.
Mrs Hee Jung Lee was also received by Her Majesty.
‘His Excellency Mr Markus Leitner was received in audience by The Queen and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from the Swiss Confederation to the Court of St. James’s. Mrs Leitner was also received by Her Majesty.’
The Queen’s busy schedule before a night in hospital
The Queen attended a number of engagements before spending a night in hospital on Wednesday last week. She was ordered to rest by doctors and advised to miss a trip to Northern Ireland following her busy schedule.
Here is what the 95-year-old monarch has been up to since her return to Windsor Castle at the start of October:
– October 6: The Queen holds two virtual audiences at Windsor with the Greek ambassador and the ambassador for Belize.
She meets Canadian troops from 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and later has a telephone audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
– October 7: The Queen, with the Earl of Wessex, launches the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games from the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
– October 12: The Queen, accompanied by the Princess Royal, attends a Westminster Abbey service of thanksgiving to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion.
She uses a walking stick at the abbey – the first time she has done so at a major event.
– October 13: The monarch has a face-to-face audience with pianist Dame Imogen Cooper to present her with the Queen’s Medal for Music. She also holds three other audiences.
– October 14: On an away day to Cardiff, the Queen delivers a speech at the sixth session of the Welsh Senedd.
– October 16: The Queen enjoys a day at the races at Ascot, and presents the trophy after the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes during the Qipco British Champions Day.
– October 18: She holds a virtual audience with the new Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Cindy Kiro.
– October 19: The Queen has three engagements – two virtual audiences with the Japanese ambassador and the EU ambassador, and then hosts an evening reception at Windsor Castle to mark the Global Investment Summit.
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