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Buckingham Palace confirms changes to Queen’s schedule amid coronavirus fears

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend a morning church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Sunday Jan. 12, 2020.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives to attend a morning church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Sunday Jan. 12, 2020. File/Joe Giddens/PA

Even members of the Royal Family have been forced to change plans as the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.

Buckingham Palace announced in a statement a number of changes to the Queen‘s personal schedule during the COVID-19 outbreak, including many cancellations of events she typically attends.

She’s heading home to Windsor on March 19, a week earlier than planned, for the Easter holidays. Her annual garden parties, as well as the Maundy Service at St. George’s Chapel on April 9, have been cancelled to prevent the virus’ spread.

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Guests invited to the parties, the statement continues, will be extended an invitation for ones in 2021 so they can still attend.

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The Royal Horticultural Society’s highly anticipated yearly Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled as well.

“As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, a number of changes are being made to The Queen’s diary,” the official statement reads.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle make last royal appearance at Commonwealth Service
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle make last royal appearance at Commonwealth Service

“In consultation with the Medical Household and Government, a number of public events with large numbers of people due to have been attended by the Queen, and other Members of the Royal Family, in the coming months will be cancelled or postponed.”

The statement added that the Queen will still entertain this week’s audiences at the palace, but the rest will be postponed.

Alternative plans for the Queen’s birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, the Japanese state visit and the 75th anniversary of VE Day will be made in due course in line with the government.

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The announcement comes in the wake of other postponements of various public engagements, including the Queen’s scheduled visit to Camden and Cheshire this month.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall‘s tour of Jordan, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, meant to kick off on March 17, has also been cancelled.

Prince William and Kate Middleton were also meant to attend St. Patrick’s Day events as usual, but were forced to miss it this year.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca