Queen Leaves London As Buckingham Palace Announces Japanese Emperor's State Visit Is Postponed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Queen Elizabeth II has left London for an extended stay at Windsor Castle due to the coronavirus pandemic as Buckingham Palace announced a state visit by the Japanese emperor has been postponed.

The 93-year-old monarch left the palace on Thursday, a week earlier than planned, and is likely to stay there until beyond the Easter period, the palace said.

The queen, who left London accompanied by her pet corgis, was joined at Windsor by her husband Prince Philip, 98. "I can confirm that The Duke of Edinburgh has arrived at Windsor Castle to join The Queen for East Court as planned," a palace spokesperson told Newsweek.

He was flown there by helicopter from the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, U.K., the Evening Standard reported. According to the newspaper, Philip had planned to join the queen at Windsor for Easter, but decided to arrive a week early to coincide with her schedule.

Windsor Castle
The Queen left London for an extended stay at Windsor Castle on March 19, 2020 in Windsor, England. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In a statement on Wednesday, the palace announced that a visit from Japan's royals scheduled for sometime this spring is the latest event to be canceled as the queen adheres to the U.K. government's advice on social distancing during the outbreak.

"After consultation with Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Japan, Her Majesty The Queen has agreed that, in the current circumstances, the planned State Visit to the United Kingdom in Spring 2020 by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan should be postponed," the statement said. "The State Visit will be rescheduled at a later date."

A day earlier, the palace announced that 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 in Windsor on April 9, are canceled.

Three garden parties that were 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 changes to the queen's diary were made "as a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances," the palace added.

It came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people, especially those over the age of 70 and in high risk categories, to limit interactions with friends and family in the coming weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson also warned that Londoners need to be even more cautious as the virus is spreading much faster there than elsewhere in the country.

There were 2,626 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.K. as of Thursday morning, according to Public Health England, with 953 in London. More than 100 people have died, while 65 have recovered.

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

This graphic shows the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world as of March 19. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (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 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their 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.