The Queen Significantly Lightens Her Workload After COVID-19 Diagnosis

When Prince Charles tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 10, 2022, all eyes were on his mother, 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II. 

Charles, who had already contracted COVID once before at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020, had been with the queen just two days prior to his diagnosis. Although she is both vaccinated and boosted, the queen had to be closely monitored and tested frequently.

On Feb. 20, Buckingham Palace released a statement announcing that the fears of so many across the world had come true. Queen Elizabeth, the longest-reigning British monarch, had contracted COVID, a virus that often causes more severe illness among the elderly.

"[The queen] is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week," the palace statement read, per NBC News. "She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines."

However, two days after her positive test result, her light duties have now become even lighter.

Queen Elizabeth is forced to cancel activities

Although there has been no word on whether the queen's condition has worsened in the two days since she tested positive for COVID-19, she was forced to cancel her virtual engagements on Feb. 22, 2022.

"As Her Majesty is still experiencing mild cold-like symptoms she has decided not to undertake her planned virtual engagements today, but will continue with light duties," a second Buckingham Palace statement read (via CNN).

CNN reports that those light duties likely include signing daily documents and responding to letters. A palace source told the outlet that whether the queen will have to cancel other engagements this week remains to be seen and that those decisions will be made closer to the time of the engagements.

Over the last few months, the queen's health has been of concern as she began using a walking stick in public and had to spend one night in the hospital for tests before canceling several international trips and scaling back her usual holiday activities, per CBS News

The Daily Mail reported on February 22 that she is "considerably frailer and thinner" than she was a year ago.

The queen is being watched over carefully

As the palace announced that the queen would be canceling any virtual engagements due to her COVID-19 diagnosis, reports emerged that the royal aides are monitoring the queen more carefully, but that her symptoms so far do not have anyone "alarmed" but they are being "cautious," per the Daily Mail.

In addition, the outlet noted that BBC reporter Daniella Ralph appeared on the U.K.'s "Today Programme" on February 21 and said, "There are a couple of obvious aggravating factors here. Firstly that she is 95 years old, almost 96, and that immediately puts her in the vulnerable category. Also when you see the Queen now she is considerably thinner and frailer than she was a year ago and of course she will now have to be carefully monitored."

She added that there was some speculation the queen would be treated with a COVID-19 anti-viral medication but that was not confirmed.

When the queen met with dignitaries at Windsor Castle on February 16, she was seen in a video standing with her walking stick and telling the men that she "can't move" in a joking manner as they walked to her (via Reuters). It was the first time she had met with anyone in person since Charles' diagnosis the week before.

It's been a difficult year for the queen

The queen's COVID diagnosis comes after a very sad and dramatic 2021 and a scandal and celebration at the start of 2022. Queen Elizabeth II lost her husband of more than 70 years, Prince Philip, in April of last year. A new great-granddaughter was born and named for her in June, but she has yet to meet her due to grandson Prince Harry's new life in California.

As 2022 began, the queen had to contend with second son Prince Andrew's sex abuse scandal, which saw him settling in a lawsuit against him alleging he had sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was still a teenager. The scandal also found him entangled in the world of the late Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of trafficking young women for sex. The queen subsequently stripped Andrew of his military titles, as well as his royal patronages.

The COVID diagnosis also came just two weeks after the queen celebrated 70 years on the throne and announced she wished for Camilla Parker Bowles to be called queen consort when Charles ascends to the throne.