When it comes to the Queen’s medical matters – and those of other senior members of the Royal Family – we are habitually told it is a ’private’ issue and medical updates are rarely shared with the public. But every so often, there comes an overriding reason to break that rule – and today was one of those moments. With the coronavirus pandemic dominating domestic and international headlines for the best part of a year, there was a huge amount demand for the Palace to say whether the Queen had been vaccinated.
At age 94 - and Prince Philip at 99 – the Queen and her husband are in the second highest priority group to get the vaccine. Those over 80 and above are second in line only to residents and workers in care homes. And there has been a lot of speculation about whether or not the Queen had had it.
She has been living at Windsor with Prince Philip with a carefully arranged coterie of staff for most of the last 12 months, an arrangement informally known as HMS Bubble. Earlier this week, Queen Margrethe of Denmark become the first European royal to announce that she had had the vaccine – and while the Queen would not have bowed to pressure from a fellow head of state – it did raise further questions about why she couldn’t similarly share the medical news. And today’s announcement from Buckingham Palace will also help to allay any fears about the safety of the vaccine.
If the Head of State can have it in her mid-nineties, it sends a clear message to the rest of the country. It’s also the kind of leadership and public duty the Queen knows is expected of her. In the mid-1950s, the Queen let it be known that Prince Charles and Princess Anne, then aged 8 and 6, had been vaccinated against polio at a time when there was huge public concern about the jab. The Palace will not say whether the Queen and Prince Philip has the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer/BioNTech one. Neither have they confirmed it if was the first or second dose of the vaccine. They simple said that it had been “administered by a Household Doctor at Windsor Castle”. But palace aides did nevertheless decide – with the Queen’s permission – to bend their own rules on private medical matters and share this particular development with the entire world.
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