Queen Cancels Events, Will Stay at Windsor Castle Until After Easter Period Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Queen Elizabeth II has canceled engagements and will be moving to Windsor Castle due to the coronavirus pandemic—while other royals are also taking precautions.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Buckingham Palace said the 93-year-old monarch would be leaving London a week earlier than planned.

A palace spokeswoman confirmed to Newsweek that the queen would be heading to Windsor Castle on Thursday and will likely stay there beyond the Easter period. The spokeswoman did not confirm whether the monarch would remain there until her 94th birthday on April 21.

It came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people in high risk categories, including all those over the age of 70, to limit interactions with friends and family in the coming weeks in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson also said the virus is spreading much faster in London than elsewhere in the country.

There were 1,950 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.K. as of Wednesday morning, according to Public Health England, with 621 of those in London. At least 60 people have died, while 65 have recovered.

Queen
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II receives outgoing Commanding Officer, HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Steven Moorhouse (C) and incoming Commanding Officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh (L) during a private audience in the Queen's Private Audience Room at Buckingham Palace, London on March 18, 2020. Yui Mok/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Buckingham Palace said the changes to the queen's diary were made "as a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances."

Audiences that were due to take place before Thursday with Johnson and others will go ahead. But all future audiences with the queen "will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, in line with the appropriate advice," the palace statement added.

A number of upcoming events that the monarch was due to attend in the coming months, including the annual Maundy service at St George's Chapel, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wed, on April 9 will be canceled.

Three garden parties due to be held at Buckingham Palace will also not go ahead. Guests due to attend this year's parties will be invited to come in 2021, the palace said.

The queen isn't the only member of the royal family taking precautions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who are both over 70, canceled a tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Jordan that was set to begin on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that Duke and Duchess of Sussex are understood to be taking "appropriate" measures after Prince Harry was possibly exposed to the coronavirus earlier this month.

Harry was pictured hugging Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton on March 6, two days after Hamilton posed for pictures with actor Idris Elba and Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at a charity event in London. Both Elba and Sophie Trudeau have since tested positive for COVID-19.

The Sussexes headed back to Canada after their final engagements as senior members of the royal family earlier this month. They will officially step down as working royals on March 31.

On Wednesday, the couple shared an uplifting message on their Instagram account, writing: "These are uncertain times. And now, more than ever, we need each other. We need each other for truth, for support, and to feel less alone during a time that can honestly feel quite scary.

"There are so many around the world who need support right now, who are working tirelessly to respond to this crisis behind the scenes, on the frontline, or at home. Our willingness, as a people, to step up in the face of what we are all experiencing with COVID-19 is awe-inspiring. This moment is as true a testament there is to the human spirit."

The couple added that in the coming weeks, they will be sharing information and resources to "help all of us navigate the uncertainty."

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These are uncertain times. And now, more than ever, we need each other. We need each other for truth, for support, and to feel less alone during a time that can honestly feel quite scary. There are so many around the world who need support right now, who are working tirelessly to respond to this crisis behind the scenes, on the frontline, or at home. Our willingness, as a people, to step up in the face of what we are all experiencing with COVID-19 is awe-inspiring. This moment is as true a testament there is to the human spirit. We often speak of compassion. All of our lives are in some way affected by this, uniting each of us globally. How we approach each other and our communities with empathy and kindness is indisputably important right now. Over the coming weeks, this will be our guiding principle. We will be sharing information and resources to help all of us navigate the uncertainty: from posting accurate information and facts from trusted experts, to learning about measures we can take to keep ourselves and our families healthy, to working with organisations that can support our mental and emotional well-being. In addition, we will focus on the inspiring stories of how so many of you around the world are connecting in ways big and small to lift all of us up. We are all in this together, and as a global community we can support each other through this process – and build a digital neighbourhood that feels safe for every one of us. We look forward to sharing more over the days and weeks to come...

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who are third and fourth in line to the throne, will reportedly be home schooled from Friday due to the outbreak.

Their school urged parents to teach children at home after increasing numbers of pupils and staff were absent due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Sun reported. Schools in England remain open, but all schools in Scotland and Wales are set to close on Friday.

Buckingham Palace has been contacted for additional comment.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world as of March 18.

Statista
This graphic, provided by Statista, shows the confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, as of March 18. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of COVID-19

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing;
  • When caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities, follow guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks.
  • Clean hands after disposing of mask, do not reuse single-use masks.