The Queen spent the night in hospital for tests just hours after dramatically cancelling an official trip to Northern Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of the partition of the island.
Royal doctors ordered Her Majesty, 95, to rest and advised her to miss a trip to the province, sparking speculation about the reason for the eleventh-hour cancellation.
It is understood the trip to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Wednesday afternoon was expected to be for some ‘preliminary investigations’, and that the overnight stay was for practical reasons. For these reasons, as well as in order to protect the Queen’s medical privacy, the visit was not announced by Buckingham Palace at the time.
The Palace said that the monarch was discharged yesterday morning and returned to Windsor Castle at lunchtime, where she is expected to recuperate for the rest of the week. She was not thought to have had an overnight hospital stay since March 2013, when she was treated for a stomach bug.
The Queen was understood to be in ‘good spirits’ and back at her desk reading her official government red boxes yesterday. Her admission is understood not to have been related to coronavirus. The Palace has not commented on whether the world’s longest reigning monarch has received her booster Covid jab, but given her age it is likely she has had it.
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.
The sovereign, whose husband the Duke of Edinburgh died just six months ago aged 99, has had a busy schedule since returning from Balmoral at the start of October. Including her return from the royal estate in Aberdeenshire, where she spent the summer, the Queen has travelled nearly 1,000 miles this month.
Last week, she was forced to start using a walking stick in public for the first time – a stark reminder of her advancing years. And on Tuesday evening she hosted a major Global Investment summit at Windsor Castle, where she looked bright and cheerful as she carried out her royal duties.
Aides say they are still confident she will be well enough to undertake a series of meetings and audiences next week, and also lead the Royal Family at the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow at the beginning of November.
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.
The Queen at a reception for the Global Investment Summit in Windsor Castle, October 19, 2021
It is understood the trip to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon was expected to be for a short stay for some ‘preliminary investigations’
The Queen (right with Boris Johnson) at a reception for the Global Investment Summit in Windsor Castle, October 19, 2021
The Queen arriving to attend the ceremonial opening of the sixth Senedd, in Cardiff, Wales on October 14, 2021
The Queen’s busy October schedule before a night in hospital
The Queen attended a number of engagements before spending a night in hospital on Wednesday.
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.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.’
A source said yesterday: ‘Quite understandably, a cautious approach is being taken by the medical team.
‘Her Majesty was back at her desk this afternoon and undertaking light duties.’
The Queen is expected to rest at Windsor Castle and aides said there were no plans to cancel her attendance at events for the UN climate summit in Glasgow at the end of this month.
She is likely to continue to hold private meetings at Windsor Castle next week but has no public engagements.
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.
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.
The Queen held two audiences this week via video link from Windsor Castle, greeting the Japanese ambassador Hajime Hayashi and the EU ambassador Joao de Almeida, followed by the investment summit in the evening.
Among those at the Windsor reception for billionaire business leaders, presidential envoys and tech entrepreneurs were Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, US climate envoy John Kerry, Poppy Gustafsson, chief executive of cyber security firm Darktrace, and Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, managing director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
Royal sources had insisted there was no cause for concern, and stressed that the decision was made purely as a ‘precautionary’ measure.
There was no suggestion that the Queen had fallen ill and it was understood that her decision was not linked to Covid. It is understood she has received her booster jab.
But the monarch, who will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee next year, continues to stoically meet hundreds of work commitments each year – 30 years after most people have retired – and does suffer from recurrent back pain.
On Tuesday she hosted a summit for global investors and politicians at Windsor Castle, standing and shaking hands for around 40 minutes, the Mail was told.
A source said she was on ‘sparkling form’, welcoming guests including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and US presidential envoy John Kerry, telling Mr Kerry: ‘I saw you on telly the other night doing [Prince] William’s Earthshot Prize thing.’
As part of her planned trip to Northern Ireland, she had been expected to stay at Hillsborough Castle and undertake a series of public engagements there, staying overnight to attend a service to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland.
It is highly unusual that such a major engagement would be cancelled at the last minute, suggesting staff are taking no chances with the head of state’s health, even if it is just precautionary.
Royal commentator Joe Little said the Queen’s age meant last-minute cancellations might become more frequent. The managing editor of Majesty magazine said: ‘When you get to the age of 95 and you have a role such as the Queen has, there is an inevitability about last-minute cancellations. Unfortunately, I think this is just how it’s going to have to be from time to time.’
Queen, 95, ‘is still set to host world leaders at Cop26 in Glasgow’ after ‘reluctantly’ cancelling today’s Northern Ireland trip on doctor’s advice – following another gruelling week of official engagements
The Queen is still expected to meet world leaders at the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow despite cancelling a trip to Northern Ireland after she ‘reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days’.
The 95-year-old monarch – who has been seen using a walking stick at engagements over the past week – is said to be in good spirits but disappointed not to be able to carry out the two-day trip.
The Queen has had a busy few days and hosted a major global investment summit at Windsor Castle. She also had engagements last week at the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff and Westminster Abbey in London.
The Queen is now resting at Windsor Castle and is still expected at this stage to host a reception in Scotland on November 1 for the Cop26 conference, although it is likely a view will be taken on this nearer the time.
The Queen is double-vaccinated, having been given her first jab by a household doctor at Windsor Castle on January 9 and her second at the end of March ahead of what was her first public appearance in five months.
Buckingham Palace would not comment on whether the head of state had received her booster Covid-19 jab, but given her age it is likely she has already had it.
He added: ‘Mentally, the Queen is pin-sharp as ever and when she makes speeches she speaks well. Every now and again there will be this reminder that she is 95 and she can’t do what was expected of her ten, 20 years ago.’
Mr Little said he believed the Queen would carry out fewer public engagements to mark her Platinum Jubilee than she did for her Diamond Jubilee.
And he said he did not believe she would agree to allow Charles to take over duties as a prince regent unless there was a ‘sharp deterioration’ in her health.
Her doctor’s advice will strengthen calls for her and her advisers to reconsider the number of engagements she undertakes. She has made schedule ‘tweaks’ and has handed over more arduous public duties such as investitures to other senior royals.
But there are some duties that only the reigning monarch can conduct. In recent weeks she has travelled to Holyrood and Cardiff to attend the opening of the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, taken part in a tree planting at Balmoral and launched the Commonwealth Games baton relay at Buckingham Palace.
Last week she used a walking stick for the first time at a public event – at a service for the centenary of the Royal British Legion. She has also taken part in several audiences at Windsor.
A royal source said: ‘With her Platinum Jubilee on the horizon, many are thinking that perhaps her private office needs to look at the diary again.’
Another source said: ‘No one is saying that she should take a step back, but perhaps another slight step to one side might be in order.’
At the weekend, the Queen enjoyed a day at the races at Ascot, and on Monday held a virtual audience with the new governor-general of New Zealand.
Last week, she travelled to Cardiff to deliver a speech at the ceremonial opening of the sixth Welsh Senedd in Cardiff.
The monarch has been pictured out and about at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and Ascot in the months since, and still enjoys riding her own ponies.
Earlier yesterday, security sources had speculated whether the health scare was something of a ‘smokescreen’ with the centenary event becoming a ‘political hot potato’ after details of the Queen’s itinerary were leaked by Irish newspapers.
The Irish Times previewed the Queen’s visit at the end of September and a leading security expert pointed out that details of the trip had been widely reported in Belfast. He said that revealing where the Queen would be ‘was as dangerous as it gets’.
In the past, details of Royal visits to Northern Ireland were kept under wraps until the last moment. Off-record briefings would be given to the media on condition that the news would be embargoed until the visit was underway.
There had also been confusion over the last-minute nature of the trip’s cancellation, especially as President Higgins’s invite rejection and the leaking of the Queen’s visit took place several weeks ago. However, the revelation tonight appears to have laid those rumours to rest.
The Queen’s husband of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh died in April at the age of 99. As well coping with the duke’s death, the Queen and the royal family have endured some of their most turbulent times in modern history in recent years.
October 16 — Queen Elizabeth II attends Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire
October 14 — Queen Elizabeth II uses a walking stick attends the opening ceremony of the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff
October 13 — Dame Imogen Cooper is received by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, where she was presented with The Queen’s Medal for Music for 2019
October 12 — Queen Elizabeth II uses a walking stick as she arrives to attend a service at Westminster Abbey in London
October 7: Starting Commonwealth Games baton relay at Buckingham Palace
Political and church leaders wish Queen well
Political leaders have wished the Queen well following the cancellation of her visit to Northern Ireland this week.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis tweeted: ‘Wishing Her Majesty The Queen all the very best as she takes a few days’ rest. I look forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future.’
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also tweeted his best wishes. ‘We thank Her Majesty for her good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland and trust that she will keep well and benefit from a period of rest,’ he tweeted. ‘It is always a joy to have Her Majesty in Royal Hillsborough and we look forward to a further visit in the near future.’
Church leaders expressed sorrow after learning the Queen would not be attending.
‘We are very sorry to learn that it will not be possible for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be present for the Service of Reflection and Hope in Armagh tomorrow,’ they said in a statement.
‘We wish to convey to Her Majesty our good wishes and, in doing so, to acknowledge the significance of her commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation, which has meant a great deal to people throughout this island.
‘We hope that tomorrow’s service will provide an opportunity to further that work, with an emphasis on our shared hopes for the future.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plunged the monarchy into crisis with their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, while Philip was in hospital.
Harry and Meghan accused an unnamed member of the family of racism towards their son Archie before he was born, and the institution of failing to help the suicidal duchess.
The pair quit as senior working royals in 2020 in favour of more freedom and the ability to earn their own money in the US.
Harry said he felt let down by Charles and that ‘there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened’ in their relationship, and his long-standing rift with William has continued.
In the aftermath of the Oprah broadcast, the Queen issued a statement saying ‘while some recollections may vary’, the issues would be taken ‘very seriously’, but dealt with privately as a family.
The scandal that engulfed the Queen’s second son the Duke of York, who was forced to step back from public duties in November 2019, moved up a gear this year.
Andrew had faced mounting pressure and calls to answer the FBI’s questions following his ‘car crash’ Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
His friend Ghislaine Maxwell is to go on trial, charged with recruiting girls for Epstein. Maxwell denies the charges against her. Then in August 2021, Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein, started legal action against Andrew for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and still a minor under US law.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the civil suit seeking unspecified damages at a federal court in New York.
She alleges she was sexually abused by Andrew at Maxwell’s home in London, Epstein’s New York mansion and at other locations including Epstein’s private Caribbean island Little St James. Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre.
Despite the royals’ problems, there have also been times of celebration, with the Queen welcoming a host of new great-grandchildren.
Princess Eugenie gave birth to her first child, a son called August, in February 2021 and Zara Tindall welcomed her third, Lucas, who was born at home on the bathroom floor the month after.
Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, who the Queen has yet to meet in person, arrived in June, and Princess Beatrice, who wed during the pandemic in a secret lockdown ceremony, had her daughter Sienna in September.
On Tuesday evening, the Queen welcomed billionaire business leaders, presidential envoys and tech entrepreneurs to Windsor Castle for a reception.
Mr Gates was among the guests invited to the Queen’s Berkshire home after the day-long conference in London aimed at encouraging foreign funding by showcasing the best of British innovation.
October 10 — Queen Elizabeth II is seen on her way to The Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor as she returns to church
October 7 — Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth II attend the launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022, the XXII Commonwealth Games, at Buckingham Palace
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
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
October 1 — The Queen and Prince Charles walk to the Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to plant a tree to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen’s Green Canopy on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland
The Queen was joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge at the reception, and met some of the leading figures in the castle’s green drawing room before the royals mingled more widely. Neither the royal family nor the guests were wearing masks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to be introduced first, but he appeared after the Queen began welcoming her guests and took his place at the end of the line.
In a foreword for the Global Investment Summit’s official brochure, the Queen said she was ‘proud’ of how the UK is moving towards a sustainable future but ‘there is still much more to do’.
The head of state also urged nations to ‘rise to the challenge’ and avert the problems associated with climate change.
It comes after the monarch appeared to suggest last week she was irritated by a lack of action in tackling climate change.
In an overheard exchange following the opening of the Welsh Senedd she appeared to express her exasperation just a few weeks before world leaders gather in Glasgow for Cop26.
Queen, 95, will NOT step back from royal duties but will ‘pace’ her engagements and it’s ‘patronising’ to suggest she should retire, Her Majesty’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter claims
Royal commentator Dickie Arbiter has said the Queen will not step down, despite concerns over her health after she cancelled a trip to Northern Ireland this week following medical advice to rest for the next few days.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the former press secretary to the Queen, 95, told Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid that anyone asking the monarch to retire was ‘patronising and fighting fire’.
Instead, Mr Arbiter, 81, suggested the Queen would ask officials to ‘pace’ her engagements as she continues her duties as sovereign.
‘The Queen made her feelings very crystal clear when she told the ‘Oldie awards’ to naff off,’ he said.
‘Remembrance Day is coming up and is sacred in her diary. To suggest she’ll step back is patronising and fighting fire – the Queen will instead ask her officials to pace her engagements more.’
Explaining why the Queen would not step down, Mr Arbiter continued: ‘During her coronation she made a vow in the eyes of god, and you can’t compare that promise to the pope retiring.
‘The Queen has had a very strenuous few days ago, which is why doctors probably advised her to cancel her upcoming trip. It’s a lot to ask of anyone any age – even when she’s not at engagements the monarch has mounds of paperwork to go through.’
He concluded: ‘The officials at Buckingham Palace will be looking very carefully to pace her engagements. There’s only so much Charles, William and Kate can do.’
Dickie, 81, suggested the Queen would ask officials to ‘pace’ her engagements as she continues her duties as sovereign.
However, royal biographer Angela Levin argued that the Queen is battling feelings of guilt, and should be encouraged to step down.
She said: ‘The Queen feels very guilty as she made a promise at 21 that she’ll be Queen until she dies, but the Pope made the same vows and has since retired.
‘Things have changed since the royal made that promise and people live longer nowadays.
Angela Levin argued that the Queen is battling feelings of guilt, and should be encouraged to step down
‘The Queen is incredibly alert but it’s too much for her physically – at the moment it’s a fight between mind and body – she should be encouraged to step back slowly.’
Arguing that the Queen should retire after the Platinum Jubilee in June, which marks 70 years on the throne, Ms Levin added: ‘The Queen needs to look after herself and make allowances.
‘Prince Philip said the same thing when he retired and allowed himself a break. We should all be encouraging the Queen to step back and enjoy the rest of her life.’
‘No fuss approach to infrequent illness’: The Queen’s health over the years after her first overnight hospital stay since 2013
The Queen during the Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse, October 16, 2021
The Queen is known for her strong constitution and no fuss approach to her infrequent illnesses.
The monarch’s overnight stay at King Edward VII’s Hospital is her first in eight years.
She was treated at the private clinic for a nasty bout of gastroenteritis in 2013, when she also stayed for one night.
Last week, the sovereign used a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service – the first time she has done so at a major event.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lockdown.
The couple were vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their advanced age, but were protected by the so-called HMS Bubble – their reduced household of about 20 staff.
On January 9, 2021, the 94-year-old Queen and the 99-year-old duke received their coronavirus vaccinations, with Buckingham Palace taking the rare step of confirming what would usually have been a private medical matter, as the national rollout of the injections gathered pace.
Philip had heart surgery in March 2021, but returned to Windsor where he died a few weeks later in his sleep at the age of 99.
In January 2020, the Queen missed her annual visit to the Sandringham Women’s Institute due to a slight cold.
The year she turned 90 – the monarch called time on her overseas travels, leaving long-haul destinations to the younger members of her family, but she still maintains a busy diary of events. The monarch still rides her Fell ponies at Windsor, and drives, mainly around her private estates.
The Queen missed the christening of her great-grandson Prince Louis in July 2018 but not because of illness.
It was mutually agreed in advance by the monarch and the Cambridges that the Queen would not attend the celebration, which fell at the beginning of a busy week of engagements including the centenary of the RAF and a visit by US President Donald Trump.
In June that year, the Queen pulled out of a service at St Paul’s Cathedral because she was feeling ‘under the weather’.
In May 2018, the head of state had eye surgery to remove a cataract. She was treated as a day patient and did not cancel any engagements nor appearances, but was spotted wearing sunglasses.
In November 2017, the Prince of Wales led the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph. It was the first time that the Queen, as head of state, had watched the ceremony from a nearby balcony, and was seen as a sign of the royal family in transition and an acknowledgement of her age.
October 13: Giving pianist Imogen Cooper The Queen’s Medal for Music
The Queen leaving King Edward VII’s Hospital, after being admitted with symptoms of gastroenteritis, March 2014
Just before Christmas 2016, the Queen and Philip both fell ill with heavy colds, forcing them to delay their trip to Sandringham by a day.
The Queen was not well enough to attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene church and also missed the New Year’s Day one. She later described it as a ‘particularly grisly mixture of cold and flu’.
She turned 90 in 2016 and, the same year, used the lift rather than stairs to enter Parliament for the State Opening, avoiding the 26 steps of the royal staircase at the Sovereign’s Entrance.
Buckingham Palace said the ‘modest adjustment’ to arrangements were made for ‘the Queen’s comfort’. The decision was attributed to the Queen suffering from knee pain.
In 2014, the Prince of Wales stood in for the Queen for part of the Order of the Bath service to avoid her having to make an extra journey up and down some steep steps in full regalia.
In November 2013, the Duke of Cambridge stepped in to represent the Queen at an investiture ceremony after she suffered some ‘mild discomfort’ with her ankle after a busy weekend of engagements including the service of remembrance at the Cenotaph.
Her first hospital stay in 10 years came in 2013 when she was 86 after she suffered symptoms of gastroenteritis and missed an engagement in Swansea when she was due to present St David’s Day leeks to the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.
On March 3, 2013, she was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital to be assessed. A week of engagements, including a two-day trip to Rome, was cancelled. The Queen spent one night in hospital and left thanking staff and smiling before being driven to Buckingham Palace to rest.
October 12: Royal British Legion’s centenary service
The Queen smiling at an event in celebration of The Big Lunch initiative at The Eden Project, near St Austell, June 11, 2021
It was thought her public appearances were back on track until Buckingham Palace announced on the morning of the Commonwealth Day Observance service on March 11 that she regrettably could no longer attend ‘as she continues to recover following her recent illness’.
It was the first Commonwealth Day Observance service she had missed in 20 years, the last occasion being when she had flu in 1993.
The Queen, who placed great importance to her role as Head of the Commonwealth, did however attend the Commonwealth Reception at Marlborough House on the evening of March 11 to sign the new Commonwealth Charter.
Buckingham Palace insisted it was just the ‘tail end’ of the symptoms and that her condition had not worsened. But the next day she cancelled her engagements for the rest of the week, with her son, the Duke of York, saying later that it was sensible not to risk her coming out, but that she was not ill.
Her illnesses have been few and far between over the years.
She has suffered from back pain, and also had operations to remove torn cartilage from both knees. She caught measles when Prince Charles was two months old in 1949 and had to be separated from her baby son.
The first time the Queen was actually admitted to hospital was in July 1982 when she had a wisdom tooth extracted at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London.
The Queen’s no fuss approach to injury and illness was perfectly illustrated in 1994.
She broke her left wrist when her horse tripped during a ride on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The break was not diagnosed until almost 24 hours later when her arm was X-rayed and set in plaster at a hospital.
It was the first time she had fallen in many years and the Queen had simply brushed herself down, remounted her horse and trotted on back to Sandringham.