Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has pulled out of more public engagements this week because she has still not fought off a stomach bug, Buckingham Palace announced today.
The news follows the 86-year-old’s withdrawal from attending a commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey on Monday. Although the cancellation came at the 11th hour, the monarch did attend a reception for commonwealth leaders that same evening.
The ruler was also due to take part in a live broadcast ceremony that same day, during which she would have signed a historic charter designed to protect an array of equal, gay, women’s rights, democracy, and the rule of law across the 54 countries that belong to the commonwealth.
Almost two weeks after she was first stricken with a stomach bug on Friday, March 1, hospitalized the following Sunday then discharged 24 hours later, the Queen has pulled out of public engagements for the next two days.
The announcement is a surprise because the Palace said the monarch would attend her official engagements this week after resting on Monday. It’s also unusual because the last time the Queen was hospitalized was in 2003.
She had been due to visit a technology park in east London on Wednesday with her son, the Duke of York, and was expected at a church service at the Guards Chapel near Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
The news has increased speculation about the Queen’s health but sources say the monarch is only suffering the normal symptoms of gastroenteritis, and is still carrying on with a relatively normal private workload
In a statement issued just before 5 pm, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said:
“The Queen continues to make a good recovery following her recent illness, and today she presented The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and held a series of Audiences.”
“However, regrettably, she will no longer attend the Tech City engagement planned for Wednesday, or the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scriptures Association Service at the Guards Chapel on Thursday.”
In place of the Queen, the Duke of York will represent her at the Tech City visit, and her husband The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the Guards Chapel Service.
The Palace also said the Queen is continuing with her activities at Buckingham Palace including holding a Privy Council meeting tomorrow. “The Queen hopes to resume her program of official engagements next week,” the spokesman added.
Although rumored to have had a colonoscopy during her stay at the King Edward VII hospital in central London last week, sources say she was simply being “assessed.” The source added that the Queen has not been off sick for two weeks, but has reduced her workload until she is fully fit.
By carrying out official duties within Buckingham Palace the Queen can break for a rest whenever she needs to and does not have to spend long periods on her feet, as she would have done with the now canceled engagements this week.