The 95-year-old queen, who has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, quipped just four days ago to Palace staff that she could not move much, and she spent a night in hospital last October for an unspecified ailment.
“The Queen has today tested positive for COVID,” the Palace said. “Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.”
“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all appropriate guidelines,” the Palace said.
Charles, 73, the heir to the throne, earlier this month withdrew from an event after contracting COVID-19 for a second time. A Palace source said he had met the queen days before.
Elizabeth, the world’s oldest monarch, quietly marked the 70th anniversary of her accession to the British throne in early February.
Elizabeth, became the queen of Britain and more than a dozen other realms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand on the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, while she was in Kenya on an international tour.
She is the first British sovereign to spend seven decades on the throne in a dynasty that traces its origins back almost 1,000 years to Norman King William I and his 1066 conquest of England.
Devotion to duty
In her record-breaking reign, Elizabeth’s achievement has been to maintain the popularity of the British monarchy in the face of seismic political, social and cultural change that threatened to make royalty an anachronism.
When she ascended the throne, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong and Harry Truman were running the Soviet Union, China and the United States, respectively, while Winston Churchill was British prime minister.
Including Churchill, she has been served by 14 prime ministers – a quarter of the number in Britain since Robert Walpole 300 years ago. During her reign, there have been 14 U.S. presidents, all of whom she has met bar Lyndon Johnson.
Elizabeth’s quiet devotion to duty has won her support and respect in the United Kingdom and the broader Commonwealth, in contrast to the scandals that have engulfed other members of the royal family.
“Wishing Her Majesty The Queen good health and a speedy recovery,” opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said. “Get well soon, Ma’am.”
While public affection for her remains strong, with about four in five Britons holding a favorable view, the monarchy itself has suffered a number of knocks, including a U.S. sex abuse court case against her second son Prince Andrew, raising questions about the long-term future of the monarchy.
Andrew last week settled the lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager.
Andrew, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier and sex offender, has denied accusations that he forced Giuffre, who lives in Australia, to have sex at age 17 more than two decades ago.
British police said last week they had begun an investigation into allegations in media reports that honors were offered to a Saudi national in return for donations to one of Prince Charles’s charities.
Messages of goodwill pouring in
On a wet and blustery day, a few sightseers gathered at the gates of Windsor Castle where the queen is receiving medical treatment for mild symptoms. Others went online to express support and message boards in the London Underground urged the monarch to “take it easy.”
Many said they were troubled by the news after the world’s longest reigning monarch pulled out of a number of high-profile events and spent a night in hospital last October, igniting fears about her health.
Julie and Rupert Wills, visiting Windsor to the west of London, said they loved the queen “to bits,” with Rupert respecting her ability to just “quietly get on with” things. Sanil Solanki, 43, described her as the nation’s mother.
For 19-year-old Gerard Smith, the news had come as a shock. “Everyone loves her,” he said. “She can’t do wrong to anyone. She’s been there my whole lifetime and the lifetime of almost everyone. It’s sad to hear. Hopefully she makes it through.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the official response, saying he was sure he spoke for the nation when he wished the queen a swift recovery and a rapid return to vibrant good health.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer said: “Get well soon Ma’am.” Many other politicians simply tweeted “God Save The Queen.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also wished her a “fast and full recovery” from COVID-19. In a tweet Sunday, Trudeau said, “My thoughts, and the thoughts of millions of Canadians, are with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today. We’re wishing her a fast and full recovery from COVID-19.”
The U.S. Embassy in London sent best wishes. The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, described the queen as “a rock” in reference to the British territory’s landscape.
The widespread support for the queen follows the anniversary earlier this month when she quietly marked 70 years on the throne, the first British sovereign to do so.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton and Barbara Lewis)