Queen Elizabeth Makes 1st Public Outing Since Start of COVID Pandemic

  • VOA News

    October 17, 2020 08:10

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth Thursday carried out her first public appearance outside of a royal residence since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early March, traveling to one of the nation's top scientific labs to discuss efforts to battle the coronavirus.  

    The 94-year-old monarch was joined by grandson Prince William at the Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, in southern England. In spite of a resurgence in new cases in Britain and throughout Europe, neither the queen, nor anyone in her entourage wore a mask.

    But a spokesman for the palace said everyone in the group followed COVID-19 advice and was observed maintaining the correct two-meter social distance throughout the visit. The queen and Prince William arrived separately at the event, and the spokesman said all 48 people who were expected to encounter the queen had been tested for COVID-19.

    As part of her visit, Queen Elizabeth unveiled a plaque to officially open the new $39 million Energetics Analysis Centre, used by scientists for counterterrorist work at the facility.

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William speak with Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead during a visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Britain on Oct. 15, 2020. /AP

    Along with providing advice and support on COVID-19, scientists at the lab were also known for their work identifying the nerve agent Novichok, used in a 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Russian officials are also accused of using Novichok in August to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.  

    The queen's last previous official public engagement outside of a royal residence was on March 9, when she joined the royal family for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. Before Britain was put into full lockdown March 23, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, had moved from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, where they have been living since.

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