Queen carries out first public royal engagement since before lockdown

The Queen leaves lockdown: Everyone that the monarch, 94, and William meet at Porton Down is tested for Covid so they can shun masks on her first engagement outside a royal residence for seven months

  • The 94-year-old monarch was joined by her grandson the Duke of Cambridge at Porton Down laboratory 
  • The pair spoke to those involved in identifying the nerve agent following the Novichok incident in Salisbury
  • Today’s engagement is first time Her Majesty has ventured from a royal residence and so-called ‘HMS Bubble’
  • Heightened safety precautions were taken ahead of the visit to protect the Queen against coronavirus
  • All 48 people who were due to come into close contact with the monarch and the duke were tested for Covid
  • Her Majesty said rising cases of Covid-19 infections in Britain were ‘expected,’ adding the virus was ‘horrible’  

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The Queen sought to send a reassuring message to the country as she got back to business without a mask today, carrying out her first public engagement outside of a royal residence since before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the nation.

Her Majesty was joined by Prince William at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down near Salisbury to meet scientists who worked in the aftermath of the 2018 Novichok attack, and are supporting the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

While meeting experts at the facility, Queen Elizabeth responded to rising coronavirus levels, saying they were ‘expected,’ before adding the pandemic was ‘horrible’. 

But while the pair maintained strict social distancing and arrived separately by helicopter and car, neither opted to wear face coverings despite the Queen falling into the ‘at risk’ age bracket.

The 94-year-old shunned a mask, seen by some commentators as a positive and uplifting message as swathes of the UK face being plunged into another lockdown.     

Heightened safety precautions were taken to protect the Queen, with all 48 people due to come into close contact with her and William tested for Covid-19 by Dstl beforehand and, while the testing process is still not foolproof, all came back negative.

However, other observers including royal author Omid Scobie and broadcaster Piers Morgan have criticised the monarch’s decision not to wear a mask, saying it was a ‘worry’ and ‘not a smart move’ respectively. Meanwhile the pressure group Republic said the Queen should have set an example by wearing a face mask.

It is the first time the Queen has ventured from a royal residence in seven months, outside of her household of reduced staff – dubbed HMS Bubble – to carry out her duties as head of state. 

Royal author Robert Jobson told MailOnline the Queen chose not to wear a mask in a bid to send a message of calm and hope to the public. 

The Queen donned a blush pink coat as she ventured out of her 'HMS Bubble' today, for a trip to the Energetics Analysis Centre at Porton Down science park near Salisbury

The Queen donned a blush pink coat as she ventured out of her ‘HMS Bubble’ today, for a trip to the Energetics Analysis Centre at Porton Down science park near Salisbury

The 94-year-old monarch, wearing a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat teamed with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, was joined by her grandson the Duke of Cambridge

The 94-year-old monarch, wearing a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat teamed with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, was joined by her grandson the Duke of Cambridge

The Queen and Prince William saw displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence, a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and met staff who were involved in the Salisbury Novichok incident

The Queen and Prince William saw displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence, a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and met staff who were involved in the Salisbury Novichok incident

The Duke of Cambridge presented British Army Colonel Mike Duff, Assistant Commander South West and deputy joint commander for the decontamination of Salisbury following the 2018 Novichok incident, with the Firmin Sword of Peace for the South West department's work on the poisoning

The Duke of Cambridge presented British Army Colonel Mike Duff, Assistant Commander South West and deputy joint commander for the decontamination of Salisbury following the 2018 Novichok incident, with the Firmin Sword of Peace for the South West department’s work on the poisoning

The Duke of Cambridge asked questions about forensics work during the visit this morning

The Duke of Cambridge asked questions about forensics work during the visit this morning 

The 94-year-old unveiled a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

The 94-year-old unveiled a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

The commentator said the royal had taken advice from her doctors who said it was safe to forego a mask, and ensured necessary measures were taken to protect everyone present from the risk of Covid.

What happens at the top secret Porton Down laboratory? 

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down carries out military and scientific research, much of which is secret.   

CHEMICAL WEAPONS: Since the 1950s the lab has been producing ‘very small quantities’ of chemical and biological agents  

ANIMAL TESTING: Around 48,400 animals were blown up, gassed, or poisoned by the MoD at Porton Down between 2010 and 2017, according to official figures

Since 1916 over 20,000 volunteers have taken part in studies at Porton Down. 

EXPERIMENTAL TEST DEATH: In 1953, Aircraftsman Ronald Maddison died following participation in a trial in which a number of small drops of the nerve agent sarin were applied to the forearm through two layers of cloth.  

The pathologist’s report stated that he had died from asphyxia. The subsequent inquest into his death overturned the coroner’s original findings, recording a verdict of unlawful killing. 

COLD WAR: During the cold war period between 1953 and 1976, a number of secret aerial release trials were carried out to help the government understand how a biological attack might spread across the UK

EBOLA: Dstl has an active research programme on Ebola.

COVID: In March scientists began tested a Covid vaccine, made at Oxford University, on animals at the Wiltshire base before trialling on humans. 

WW2: During the Second World War, Porton Down scientists developed a biological weapon using anthrax spores

WEAPONS STORAGE: Dstl possesses the only licensed UK facility for the receipt, storage, breakdown and safe disposal of old chemical weapons. It currently has around 1,000 munitions in the process of being disposed of

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Mr Jobson said: ‘The Queen ensured there was a Royal safety bubble. She created a secure area where there was no danger to her or anyone else.

‘She is sending a message of confidence to the people; she’s going back to work, she’ll go about her business in the usual way, but without taking chances. She is reassuring the public that things must go on as normal, wherever it is safe to do so.

‘In a message of calm, she is saying you can make it work and things will get back to normal.’ 

As she was introduced to experts at the facility, Queen Elizabeth was heard to say about coronavirus ‘It’s doubling itself again.’

Told it was on the rise and the approach was being evaluated, she added: ‘Well I suppose it was expected?’

Professor Tim Atkins, who co-ordinated Dstl’s Covid response, replied: ‘Predicted ma’am, yes.’

The Queen added: ‘With all these horrible new things…’

Prof Atkins responded: ‘Absolutely, it’s an emerging new disease.’

Kensington Palace declined to comment as to whether the duke was also required to have a test in order to be able to accompany his grandmother.

Second in line to the throne William and the Queen, who previously would have been side by side, walked two metres apart as they were greeted by staff. 

The Queen has spent lockdown at the Berkshire residence for her safety, but has been busy behind closed doors, carrying out telephone audiences, video calls and dealing with her red boxes of official papers.

During the visit this morning the royal pair were also introduced to staff involved in the rapid response to the Novichok poisoning attack in Salisbury in 2018. 

Small groups of those taking part in the royal visit were also arranged two metres apart for social distancing.  

The pair arrived separately, with the Queen flying to the site in a helicopter, while the Duke of Cambridge arrived by car. 

The choice by British royals not to wear face coverings comes in sharp contrast to the decision made by many of the European monarchs including Queen Letizia and King Felipe, and Queen Mathilde.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge have however been seen sporting vibrant face masks during recent outings.

Face coverings are required by law in certain indoor settings such as on public transport, in shops and places of worship.

The Government recommends wearing a face covering in indoor places where social distancing may be difficult and where the public come into contact with those they do not normally meet.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told MailOnline specific advice was sought from the Medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with Dstl.

A spokesman added: ‘Specific advice has been sought from the medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with Dstl.’ 

But the Salisbury engagement comes amid a resurgence of the virus, as the country battles a second wave and stricter restrictions for some areas. 

A memo issued to staff in April from the master of the household Tony Johnstone-Burt, a former Royal Navy Officer called the mission to protect the Queen and Prince Philip ‘HMS Bubble’. 

Queen should have set an example on face masks, says pressure group

The Queen should have set an example by wearing a face mask during her first public engagement outside of a royal residence since lockdown, the pressure group Republic has said.

The 94-year-old monarch visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl) at Porton Down near Salisbury with the Duke of Cambridge on Thursday.

Neither wore face coverings, but the dstl said it tested all 48 people who were due to come into close contact with the royal visitors for Covid-19, and all came back negative.

Social distancing – including between William and his grandmother – was also maintained during the visit.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said: ‘The Queen should be setting an example.

‘I can’t see how this fits with the rules everyone else is expected to follow, so the Palace needs to come up with a rules-compliant explanation.’

Royal commentator Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen and William would inevitably be criticised, but medical advice would have been carefully followed.

‘The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge will inevitably be criticised for not wearing a face covering, but medical advice was sought while the royal visit was being planned and social distancing seemingly was maintained throughout,’ Mr Little said.

He described the Queen’s engagement as offering a ‘visible and timely reassurance’ during the global pandemic.

‘The Queen’s first official engagement away from a royal residence for the first time in seven months delivers a visible and timely reassurance that daily life can continue during the pandemic in a modified form, even for someone in their 95th year,’ he said.

‘As expected, Her Majesty appeared in good form and no doubt she was pleased to be on duty once again after a prolonged absence.’

Omid Scobie, author of the recent book Finding Freedom about Harry and Meghan, tweeted: ‘While sensible and safe precautious were clearly made, I do worry that most people seeing the photos/videos won’t know the back story. 

‘As the majority of the UK enters tighter restrictions, seeing leaders in masks would have been a strong visual.’

And DailyMail.com US editor-at-large Piers Morgan added:  ‘Why no masks or social distancing? Sorry, but this is not a smart move by the Royal Family as the virus rages and the country heads into another lockdown.’

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Specific advice has been sought from the medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with dstl.’

Face coverings are required by law in certain indoor settings such as on public transport, in shops and places of worship.

The Government recommends wearing a face covering in indoor places where social distancing may be difficult and where the public come into contact with those they do not normally meet.

It is not known when the dstl staff were tested, and Kensington Palace declined to comment on whether the duke was also required to have a test in order to be able to accompany his grandmother.

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The bubble requires 24 dedicated employees which work in two teams of 12, with a three week on, three week off rota. Staff are forced to spend a week in isolation and pass a coronavirus test before each three week shift begins. 

The Queen, whose eldest son the Prince of Wales contracted a mild form of coronavirus, delivered two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: ‘We will meet again.’

In another speech to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, she told how the message at the end of the war in Europe was ‘never give up, never despair’.

The Queen was last at an official public engagement outside of a royal residence when she joined the royal family for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

In July, she knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore for his fundraising efforts in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where she also watched a mini socially-distanced Trooping the Colour for her official birthday in June. 

It was the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s final public appearance before they quit as senior working royals for a new life in the US.

The monarch travelled to Balmoral for her private summer break and then spent a few weeks in Sandringham before returning to Windsor on October 6.

Today, the Queen and William were greeted by Dstl’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead for a tour of the Energetics Enclosure to see displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter-intelligence.

They were also shown the £30 million state-of-the-art Energetics Analysis Centre to meet counter-terrorism staff and see a demonstration of a forensic explosives investigation.

The pair then spoke to those involved in identifying the nerve agent following the Novichok incident, and those who worked on the decontamination clean-up operation.

The Queen was on good form as she quipped while signing the guest book: ‘Well it proves we’ve been here, doesn’t it?’

She was dressed in her trademark block colours – a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat and silk dress of autumnal woodland florals with a matching Rachel Trevor Morgan hat – with black gloves and her signature black Launer handbag.

There was also the traditional royal duty – the unveiling of a plaque to officially open the Dstl’s new £30 million Energetics Analysis Centre, used by scientists for counter-terrorist work. 

Mr Jobson added it was touching to see the Queen with her grandson at her side. 

He added: ‘She is supported by William as part of a constant transition of the Crown – the future King stepping up is another sign of continuity.’ 

This comes less than a week after Sophie, Countess of Wessex announced she was self-isolating at home after coming into contact last week with someone who has now tested positive for coronavirus.

The 55-year-old wife of Prince Edward is not experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 but is said to be following all relevant Government guidelines.

In March Prince Charles had a ‘mild’ form of coronavirus which first saw him feel unwell in the middle of the month before flying to Birkhall in Aberdeenshire.

The heir-to-the-throne had begun to feel ill on March 21 at his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire before travelling up to Scotland the following day. His wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall tested negative for the infection and had no symptoms, but still stayed in self-isolation. 

Russian intelligence has been accused of being behind the attempted nerve agent assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. 

Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in nearby Amesbury months after the attack, and Ms Sturgess later died after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to be linked to the case.

Military teams spent 13,000 hours on the clean-up. They took 5,000 test samples from across Salisbury and nearby Amesbury during the 355-day operation.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, donned a lab coat and blue floral face mask as she was given a tour of the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London yesterday where she heard about the work of national charity Tommy’s

The Duchess was the second royal to be seen wearing a face covering during the pandemic, after Prince William donned a medical mask while visiting the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility on June 24

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, donned a lab coat and blue floral face mask as she was given a tour of the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London yesterday where she heard about the work of national charity Tommy’s. Right, Prince William donned a medical mask while visiting the Oxford Vaccine Group’s facility on June 24

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, stepped out in a face mask for the first time as she arrived at the National Gallery in London on July 28

The Prince of Wales wore a mask during a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast on September 30

The Duchess of Cornwall, 72, stepped out in a face mask for the first time as she arrived at the National Gallery in London on July 28. Right, the Prince of Wales wore a mask during a visit to the Ulster Museum in Belfast on September 30

Prince William and his grandmother signed a guest book and as she took her turn, the Queen joked: ‘Well, it proves we’ve been here, doesn’t it?

Prince William and his grandmother signed a guest book and as she took her turn, the Queen joked: ‘Well, it proves we’ve been here, doesn’t it?

Her Majesty flew to Porton Down, which is near Salisbury in a helicopter, while Prince William arrived by car

Her Majesty flew to Porton Down, which is near Salisbury in a helicopter, while Prince William arrived by car

The 94-year-old Monarch beamed as she unveiled the plaque to officially opening the centre

The 94-year-old Monarch beamed as she unveiled the plaque to officially opening the centre 

Dressed in a fetching blush coat and matching hat, Her Majesty was in good spirits as she visited the site with her grandson this morning

Dressed in a fetching blush coat and matching hat, Her Majesty was in good spirits as she visited the site with her grandson this morning 

The Queen arrived by helicopter before she was greeted by Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead

The Queen arrived by helicopter before she was greeted by Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead

Her Majesty spoke with staff including Professor Tim Atkins (right), who was honoured for his work on the 2018 Novichok incident and has been involved in the fight against Covid-19

The Monarch shared a joke about her visit as she was invited to sign the visitor's book

The Monarch shared a joke about her visit as she was invited to sign the visitor’s book 

Timeline: How her Majesty has remained in the confines of the palace and ‘HMS Bubble’ throughout pandemic 

The Queen has spent much of lockdown at Windsor Castle for her safety, but has been busy behind closed doors, carrying out telephone audiences, video calls and dealing with her red boxes of official papers. She and Prince Philip  spent seven months together after being placed into joint quarantine at Windsor in March. They then spent six weeks at Balmoral over summer before cutting short their break to spend three weeks together in Norfolk.

March 19: Queen Elizabeth, 94, has been isolating with Prince Phillip, 98, since March 19 – despite her husband usually preferring to spend his time at Wood Farm on their Sandringham estate in Norfolk

April: A memo issued to staff from the master of the household Tony Johnstone-Burt, a former Royal Navy Officer called the mission to protect the Queen and Prince Philip ‘HMS Bubble’ 

April 5: The Queen delivered a rare televised address to the nation during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: ‘We will meet again.’

May 8: The Queen paid tribute to Britain’s lockdown spirit with an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, in which she said Second World War heroes would admire the nation’s response to the pandemic

June 13: Her Majesty watched a mini socially-distanced Trooping the Colour for her official birthday 

July 17: The Queen knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore for his fundraising in the grounds of Windsor Castle 

August 4: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Scotland for the start of their summer holiday. The couple travelled by car to RAF Northolt, in west London, where they boarded a private jet. They touched down at Aberdeen airport where they were met by a driver and whisked off to Balmoral

September 14: The Queen and her husband arrived at Sandringham for a fortnight break before their return to ‘HMS Bubble’ at Windsor

October 1: The Queen was forced to cancel all major events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the rest of the year amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

October 7: The Queen returned to Windsor Castle after spending time with the Duke of Edinburgh at Sandringham. Prince Philip, 99, remained in Norfolk, where he has spent the majority of his retirement.

 

The Queen knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore for his fundraising in July in the grounds of Windsor Castle

The Queen knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore for his fundraising in July in the grounds of Windsor Castle

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The Queen arrived back at Windsor Castle by helicopter following the visit this afternoon

The Queen arrived back at Windsor Castle by helicopter following the visit this afternoon 

The pair spoke to those involved in identifying the nerve agent following the Novichok incident, and those who worked on the decontamination clean-up operation

The pair spoke to those involved in identifying the nerve agent following the Novichok incident, and those who worked on the decontamination clean-up operation

They were treated to demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation with explosives detection dog, Max

They were treated to demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation with explosives detection dog, Max

The Queen, William and Dstl Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead (right) viewed a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation with a model explosive device in a vehicle

The Queen, William and Dstl Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead (right) viewed a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation with a model explosive device in a vehicle

The Queen and William were greeted by Dstl's chief executive Gary Aitkenhead for a tour of the Energetics Enclosure to see displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter-intelligence

The Queen and William were greeted by Dstl’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead for a tour of the Energetics Enclosure to see displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter-intelligence

In recognition of their work, the duke was presenting the Army’s Headquarters South West with the Firmin Sword of Peace for going above and beyond their normal duties in the community.

Scientists at Porton Down laboratories are currently assessing rapid antigen tests as the UK remains in the grip of the pandemic. 

In March, human and animal trials for a British vaccine against the coronavirus began at the Government’s secret science base Porton Down.

Scientists started testing the drug, made at Oxford University, on animals at the Wiltshire base before trialling on humans. 

In July, it was revealed that Number 10 maverick Dominic Cummings was touring highly secret military and security service sites, including Porton Down, amid claims he was determined to ‘sort out’ hapless procurement and organisation. 

Timeline: How post-lockdown royal outings have hinted at the new order – with the end of posys, hand shakes and walkabouts 

When lockdown restrictions first began to ease at the start of summer, the royals returned to work with Prince William, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall the first members of the family to make their first public appearances in three months. 

Both outings were markedly different to visits carried out before the start of the coronavirus crisis and offer valuable clues as to how royal engagements might be adapted going forward.

Almost every aspect of a royal visit is likely to be different now, with posys and presents deemed too risky and handshakes swapped for non-contact greetings. While female members of the royal family are typically given a small posy of flowers on their departure from a royal engagement, this is unlikely to continue.

Prince William, 37, made the short trip from his Norfolk home of Anmer Hall to thank frontline workers at King's Lynn Ambulance Station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Prince William, 37, made the short trip from his Norfolk home of Anmer Hall to thank frontline workers at King’s Lynn Ambulance Station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

June 16: Prince Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, who had been in isolation at Birkhall, Aberdeenshire, crossed the country to visit Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Prince William, 37, made the short trip from his Norfolk home of Anmer Hall to thank frontline workers at King’s Lynn Ambulance Station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. 

Both royal visits took place solely in outdoor areas of their respective venues, while Prince Charles placed his hands in a prayer position to greet healthcare workers while maintaining social distancing. Prince William checked his own temperature during his visit to the ambulance station but that was the extent of interactive activities for the royals. 

July 28: The Duchess of Cornwall donned a bespoke £38 face mask while visiting the National Gallery in London  

September 15: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge highlighted how communities have coped during the crisis as they travelled to London Bridge and Whitechapel, where they celebrated the traditions of London’s East End by making Jewish bagel snacks and meeting with Muslim volunteers supporting the community during the coronavirus outbreak

September 22: Kate Middleton met with parents helped by peer support networks during the Covid-19 pandemic 

September 30: Prince Charles was seen wearing in a face mask for the first time in public as he joined Camilla on a whirlwind one day trip to Northern Ireland. The Prince of Wales, 71, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 73, arrived in the country for a series of engagements in order to thank individuals who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic.

October 1: Countess of Wessex visits Vauxhall City Farm

October 5: Countess of Wessex visits Stepping Stones School, Hindhead, Surrey

October 6: Kate Middleton paid a visit to students at the University of Derby to hear about how the pandemic has impacted university life

October 7: The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to cancer charity Maggie’s Barts at East London hospital St Bartholomew’s to enjoy a tour of the charity’s facilities and to hear how patients and staff have coped with the pandemic

Countess of Wessex visits The National Space Centre, Leicester 

October 8: The Duchess of Cornwall headed to Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire to serve lunch to meet volunteers who have overcome recent challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic

October 12: Kate Middleton visited the Natural History Museum as she revealed she will announce the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year at a virtual award ceremony. 

The Duchess of Cornwall visited Wiltshire Council to thank staff for their work during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Prince of Wales thanked secret service staff on both sides of the Atlantic for their work as he visited the top-secret US spy base RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire 

October 13: The Duchess of Cornwall toured a boxing club in Brxiton which focuses on steering at-risk young people away from gang culture, knife crime and gun violence

October 14: The Duchess of Cambridge donned a lab coat and face mask as she toured research facilities at Imperial College London to learn about the work being done to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths. 

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, donned a lab coat and blue floral face mask as she was given a tour of the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London where she heard about the work of national charity Tommy’s

The Duchess of Cambridge, 38, donned a lab coat and blue floral face mask as she was given a tour of the Institute of Reproductive and Development Biology at Imperial College London where she heard about the work of national charity Tommy’s 

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Harry and Meghan were spotted donning masks as they enjoyed a double date with friends Katherine McPhee and David Foster in Santa Barbara last week

Harry and Meghan were spotted donning masks as they enjoyed a double date with friends Katherine McPhee and David Foster in Santa Barbara last week

Public will NOT be able to mark Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph on monument’s 100th anniversary because of the coronavirus pandemic 

Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph will be closed to the public amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it was announced today.

Crowds will not be allowed to go to the service on November 8 and will be asked to mark the day at home.

The usual Royal British Legion march past has also been cancelled over public health fears.

It is expected that members of the Royal Family and dignitaries will still attend to lay wreaths to remember the fallen 

The legion had previously hoped to still be able to hold the service with the march, but with additional measures.

The Queen, seen wiping her eye at the service in London last year, will be able to attend

The Queen, seen wiping her eye at the service in London last year, will be able to attend

The Royal British Legion's march will also no longer be able to take place at the monument

The Royal British Legion’s march will also no longer be able to take place at the monument

Some veterans will be invited to attend the service, which will be made Covid-secure.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘This Remembrance Sunday has a particular significance as it marks one hundred years since the Cenotaph was installed.

‘Whilst we will mark this occasion properly, it is with a heavy heart that I must ask people not to attend the ceremony at the Cenotaph this year in order to keep veterans and the public safe.

‘We will ensure our plans for the day are a fitting tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and that our veterans are at the heart of the service – with the nation able to watch safely from home.’

The Queen is said to have been determined to be at the service and said she would return ‘come hell or high water’.

The Cenotaph was guarded by police in June earlier this year and is celebrating 100 years

The Cenotaph was guarded by police in June earlier this year and is celebrating 100 years

Political leaders including Boris Johnson and then Labour No 1 Jeremy Corbyn in 2019

Political leaders including Boris Johnson and then Labour No 1 Jeremy Corbyn in 2019

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