Buckingham Palace released a statement on March 17 announcing that Queen Elizabeth II‘s schedule will be adjusted for the next few months due to the rapid onslaught of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. According to the official website of the royal family, royal.uk, the decision to update her schedule was enacted for “practical reasons in the current circumstances.”
The 93-year-old will still proceed with her scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The queen’s meetings with caption of the H.M.S Queen Elizabeth, Angus Essenhigh, and Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford, will also proceed as scheduled. Any “future audiences” will seemingly still occur, although the statement says that these meetings will happen “in line with the appropriate advice.”
However, five upcoming garden parties — including one for the Not Forgotten Association and one for the National Trust — have been canceled. The statement made it plain that guests will be encouraged to attend one of the 2021 garden parties. Additionally, the Maundy Service typically held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle will also be canceled.
Other large-scale events such as the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, a visit from the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and Trooping the Colour will be decided upon “in due course,” and in “consultation with the Government.”
The statement also addressed any future unnamed public events, saying that events which feature a “large number of people” will also be postponed or perhaps canceled.
The queen is scheduled to arrive at Windsor Castle on March 19, a week earlier than originally planned. Queen Elizabeth II will stay at Windsor Castle — where Easter festivities will be held — “beyond the Easter period.”
The queen isn’t the only member of the royal family adjusting their schedule because of the virus. Prince Harry, his wife Meghan Markle, and their 10-month-old son, Archie, are currently self-isolating on Vancouver Island after having potentially been exposed to the coronavirus earlier in March, while they were finishing up their royal engagements. Prince Harry attended an event to celebrate the opening of the Silverstone Experience Center on March 6. There, the Duke of Sussex hugged Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who had been photographed with actor Idris Elba and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Both Elba and Gregoire Trudeau have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
According to BBC News, the U.K. currently faces 1,950 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Thus far, over 50,000 people in the U.K. have been tested for the virus. On Monday, Johnson announced new precautions to slow the spread of the virus, including asking the British to work remotely, self isolate, and avoid unnecessary travel.