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Queen Elizabeth II has not performed public engagements since the coronavirus lockdown was introduced in the UK in March. But today, the 94-year-old monarch stepped out to visit the Porton Down military research facility. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory was involved in dealing with the Salisbury Novichok nerve agent attack in 2018.
The Queen was joined by her grandson and second in line to the throne, Prince William.
The royals met a number of scientists providing support to Britain’s response to the virus outbreak.
The monarch also unveiled a plaque to open the facility’s £30 million Energetics Analysis Centre.
The Queen quipped while signing the guest book: “Well it proves we’ve been here, doesn’t it?”
During the visit, the coronavirus pandemic was a big talking point.
While chatting to Professor Tim Atkins, the Queen managed to perfectly sum up the virus in four words.
The 94-year-old referred to COVID-19 as “this horrible new thing”.
Although the Queen and everyone else involved in the event were practicing social distancing, the monarch received backlash for now wearing a mask.
But Buckingham Palace confirmed she made the decision after speaking to her medical team.
A royal source told Mirror Online: “Specific advice on this visit has been sought from the Medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with Dstl.
“All Dstl staff have also been involved in the UK’s response to COVID-19 so are well versed in the necessary precautions.”
Like many others, the Queen has been isolating to protect herself from the coronavirus.
The Queen was moved to Windsor Castle from Buckingham Palace in the week lockdown started in the UK in March.
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She was joined by Prince Philip, and the couple have stayed at the estate for the majority of lockdown.
Prince Philip is now back at his main residence, Wood Farm at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.
The Queen will continue to live at Windsor Castle but will occasionally stay at Buckingham Palace for royal duties.
A statement from Buckingham Palace published on October 1 read: “In line with current government guidelines, and as a sensible precaution in the current circumstances, there will be no large scale events held at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle for the rest of this year.
“A variety of possibilities were examined to see if it was possible for Investitures to safely take place in line with the guidelines.
“Sadly, due to the large numbers of guests and recipients attending, it was not possible to find a way of safely delivering these events in the current circumstances.
“Recipients will be contacted directly.
“The Queen’s intention remains to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace during an Autumn programme of Audiences and engagements, in line with all relevant guidance and advice.”
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