Details Revealed About The Queen's Latest Health Scare

At 95, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is not only the longest living reigning British monarch in history (via Guinness World Records), but also the oldest current monarch. Her marriage alone — to her late husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh — exceeded the current average life expectancy of humans worldwide (via Our World in Data). Nevertheless, although the queen's own mother, the Queen Mother, lived to be nearly 102 years old (via The U.S. Sun), and a great many members of the queen's immediate and extended family appear to possess impressive longevity, one can't help but wonder if it might be unrealistic to hope that Queen Elizabeth II could make it to centenarian status. After all, her father, King George VI, died at 56, and her sister, Princess Margaret, died at 71. 

That being said, both George and Margaret died of smoking-related diseases, whereas Queen Elizabeth II is not a smoker and never has been. And the queen has, overall, enjoyed robust and vibrant health over the years (via Royal Central). Of course, working against the queen is the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which becomes riskier with age (via CDC), and the fact that the death of a longtime spouse has been associated with deteriorating health and even death of the survivor (via VeryWell Mind). And then there's the queen's most recent hospitalization that's left many deeply concerned. Here what's been revealed thus far about the queen's latest health scare.

Over the years, the queen's health has been stellar overall

Many around the world have been concerned about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II since her most recent health scare was first announced (via The New York Times). It was not the first time the 95-year-old monarch had been hospitalized, but throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed what most would consider overall "good health," as noted by Royal Central. Moreover, on the rare occasions when it's been revealed that the queen is dealing with some health-related matter, it has never ended up proving to be an imminent matter of life and death. 

For example, when the queen underwent cataract surgery in May 2018, it was an "uncomplicated" procedure and presumably elective (via OCL Vision). In 2016, when the queen had to skip a Christmas church service, it was for a bad cold, and she was back in the public eye soon after (via Evening Standard). In 2013, she was admitted to a hospital with gastrointestinal complaints, according to the The Guardian. It was her first hospitalization in a decade, however, and she was released the next day. In addition, the queen has undergone knee surgeries over the years, but all have gone smoothly and without complication (via StyleCaster). All of this is to say that if the queen's health history was any indication, one might predict that her latest health scare will turn out to be insignificant as usual. 

The queen has stated she doesn't feel like an 'oldie'

More than six months have passed since HRH Prince Philip died at age 99, and that happens to be three months longer than a 2013 study published in the Journal of Public Health might have predicted that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II might have survived in the wake of the death of her longtime spouse. As that study suggested, during the three months after the death of a spouse, the survivor's chances of dying are increased. The queen sailed past that statistic, however, going so far as to maintain what The New York Times refers to as "an energetic public presence." In May, the queen was present at the opening of Parliament. In June, she hosted President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle. And as recently as the third week of October, the queen was flat-out rejecting the notion that she should be counted as an "oldie," according to AP.

What happened there was that the magazine Oldie wanted to honor Queen Elizabeth II with the title of "Oldie of the Year." Although this honor, which would put Her Majesty in the company of such accomplished Brits as Prime Minister John Major, actress Olivia de Havilland, and artist David Hockney, the queen nevertheless declined. She did not feel she met the "criteria," which is to say that she does not "feel" like an "oldie" and presumably considers herself to be young at heart.

On October 19, the queen seemed vibrant as usual

By all accounts, Queen Elizabeth II appeared to be in as excellent health as ever on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. That was when she spent the evening rubbing elbows with the likes of billionaire tech mogul Bill Gates, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a reception for the Global Investment Summit, which has been described as a "green investment conference" convened by Johnson as part of the leadup to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (aka COP26) taking place starting October 31 and continuing through November 12, 2021 (via The Star). In fact, the queen actually played host at the evening's festivities. Moreover, she did so without a mask. 

"Wearing a teal skirt and jacket with pearls," the queen was seen "smiling and chatting with business leaders" and took part in various photo opportunities, including with Johnson. In a forward she wrote for the Global Investment Summit, she described her commitment to "working together across the globe to avert the challenges of climate change," according to People. She added, "It is our shared responsibility, of those in government, business, and civil society, to rise to this challenge." The queen was apparently looking forward to participating in COP26, and if energy and enthusiasm on the evening of October 19 was any indication, one might assume that the queen's health was not at issue at this time. However, what happened next proved shocking and sobering for her loyal fans.

On October 20, Buckingham Palace announced the queen would reschedule a trip

The day after hosting a celebrity-studded reception for the Global Investment Summit, Queen Elizabeth II was expected to travel to Northern Ireland, along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to attend, among other events, a church service marking Northern Ireland's centennial. However, the trip would have to be rescheduled, Buckingham Palace announced on October 20. The palace stated, according to The New York Times, that the queen had "reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days." 

No other official information regarding the queen's health was offered at the time by Buckingham Palace. The New York Times did report, however, that "the decision to rest is not related to COVID-19," according to people with "ties to the palace." One individual believed the circumstances to be a simple "case of overexertion by a monarch who returned to a grueling public schedule after spending more than a year in self-imposed quarantine." 

Many people assumed the queen was doing her "resting" at Windsor Castle, according to The Daily Beast, and it was also assumed that the queen's plans to attend the COP26 conference would not be affected (via The Star). Neither assumption proved correct, however. 

Queen Elizabeth II spent the night of October 20 in the hospital

When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II canceled her planned October 20 trip to Northern Ireland, many assumed — based on Buckingham Palace's official communications — that the queen was simply in need of a day or so of rest at Windsor Castle (via the Daily Beast). However, on October 21, Buckingham Palace broke the news that the queen had actually gone to the hospital on October 20 and had spent that night there. After having spent Wednesday at King Edward VII's Hospital in London for unspecified "preliminary investigations," the queen was home and in "good spirits" at Windsor Castle by lunchtime on Thursday, according to ABC News

At that point, people with "ties to the palace" were still maintaining that the queen had canceled her trip to Northern Ireland solely because she was "exhausted after a hectic series of public events," as reported by The New York Times. However, it was difficult to ignore that Buckingham Palace announced the queen's hospital stay only after this very information had already been leaked to The Sun. As a result, the palace has been accused of attempting to "conceal" material information regarding the queen's health, which, according to the Daily Beast, raises the question, "What else is not being revealed?" Ultimately, even those who may not have been concerned for the queen earlier in the week now had reason to feel uneasy about the state of her health.

The queen was back to work almost as soon as she returned from the hospital

ABC News reported that Queen Elizabeth II had returned to Windsor Castle following a one-night stay in the hospital for "preliminary investigations," noting, "She returned to her Windsor Castle home at lunchtime on Thursday and was understood to be back at her desk by afternoon, undertaking light duties." Soon after, Page Six and others were reporting that the queen had "resumed her royal duties." As HuffPost reported on October 26, "the 95-year-old queen took two virtual appointments from Windsor Castle." So does this mean that the queen's recent health scare amounts to nothing more than a false alarm? 

According to royal expert Robert Hardman, it is fully within normal royal protocol for Buckingham Palace to not make an announcement if a senior member of the royal family is admitted to the hospital to undergo testing. Rather, he told the BBC (via ABC News), the "rule of thumb is that if a senior member of the royal family undergoes a procedure or an operation, there is a medical bulletin." Hardman's theory is that the intense focus on the queen's health really just reflects "the great affection the global community has for the monarch." 

On the other hand, not everyone is convinced. There are still many who suspect the palace has "not been giving us a complete, reasonable picture" with regard to the queen's health (via BBC Gossip).

But it turns out that the queen may have bitten off more than she could chew

Despite the queen going back to work almost as soon as she returned home from her overnight hospital stay and taking virtual meetings, according to the HuffPost, the queen's health scare may not be over just yet. On October 24, The Sun reported that the queen skipped church services that day, which is disconcerting to those who know that the "deeply religious" queen "rarely" skips church services. Moreover, as The Sun reported, the queen's decision to skip church services was not necessarily her choice; rather it had been made on "doctors' advice." In fact, the Royal Observer reported that same day that the queen's calendar would henceforth be modified to reflect her advancing age such that she will be having other senior members of the royal family step in for her with regard to some of the "smaller" events and duties. 

On October 24, The Sun also noted that Buckingham Palace insiders were chalking up any modifications to the queen's schedule to her desire to "save her energy" for the upcoming COP26 climate conference, which she regards as a high priority. However, since then, it appears that the queen's plans to attend that conference have changed.

Now the queen has pulled out of the COP26 climate conference

On Tuesday, October 26, Buckingham Palace announced that "regretfully" Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had made the decision not to travel to Glasgow, Scotland to attend the COP26 climate conference that will run from October 31 through November 12 — and for which the queen's attendance was meant to lend "style and splendor" to the proceedings, according to MSN News. Although it is not yet clear whether the queen had been advised by her doctors to cancel her appearance, it does appear that this decision was one that the queen did not take lightly. 

First, the queen has been vocal about her commitment to addressing the climate crisis, according to CNN. She has even gone so far as to say that she feels upset by "the lack of action on tackling the climate crisis." In addition, the queen is known for her staunch loyalty and tireless service for the countries over which she is sovereign (via Mirror Online), but it has been suggested that her non-appearance at COP26 stands to "dash the hopes" of Britain's government, anxious as it is to "show the importance of the session to the fate of the planet," as reported by ABC News

The queen's cancellation has, of course, done nothing to allay the concerns of those who fear her health issues are more serious than what they've been led to believe (via Daily Beast). Nevertheless, at this point, the queen is still planning to participate via remote link, according to Newsweek

Were there signs that the public missed regarding the queen's health?

They say that hindsight is 20/20, so it's not surprising that some have taken to speculating that perhaps the queen's recent health scare will end up having a significant impact on the remainder of her reign, but also that perhaps there have been signs over the past several months that her health has been on the decline — signs that we somehow missed or that we discounted as unimportant. Take, for example, the fact that the queen was advised by doctors in September to give up her beloved hobby of riding horses. Although "she adores riding and it has been part of her ritual for most of her life," a source from Balmoral told The Sun, the queen's decision to take a break from riding was made because she had been in "quite a bit of discomfort." Additionally, while the queen has reportedly vowed to get back in the saddle as soon as possible, there is certainly no evidence that her health has improved since September.

Further, it would appear that it is only in the wake of the queen's recent health scare that any significant attention has been paid to the fact that the queen was seen walking with a cane at Westminster Abbey in mid-October — for the first time ever, save for when she was recovering from knee surgery in 2003 (via ABC News).

So, what's the prognosis in regards to the queen's recent health scare?

Over the course of the last several weeks, a number of developments have put the world on notice that the health of 95-year old Queen Elizabeth II may be on the decline. In mid-October, less than a month after she announced she was taking a break from horseback riding, the queen was observed to be walking with the aid of a cane. Days later, she canceled her trip to Northern Ireland. That was followed by a night in the hospital and an order by doctors to ease up her schedule. On October 24, she missed church — a rare occurrence, and most recently, she canceled longstanding plans to travel to Glasgow to attend an important international conference regarding the state of the climate, a cause near and dear to the queen's heart. So, should we be worried about her?

Not necessarily. As noted above, Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed a lifetime of radiant health. Second, those close to her believe that she is in no way anxious to slow down (via Scottish Sun). In addition, the queen has repeatedly rejected the notion that she would ever give her reign over to a regency (via International Business Times). Moreover, plans for the queen's 2022 Platinum Jubilee (celebrating 70 years as monarch) are still going full steam ahead, according to the Royal Family's website.