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Queen Elizabeth II, 94, has seen many a challenge during her long stint on the throne, but no one could ever be prepared for the unprecedented nature of a pandemic. As the world went into lockdown, the Queen and Prince Philip, 99, remained together in Windsor Castle as their ages put them in the ‘at risk’ category.
Older adults were most at risk of developing severe illnesses from COVID-19, meaning the Queen and Philip were whiled away in Windsor Castle, with just a skeleton staff to reduce their risk.
Fast forward a few months, and lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease – with several royals managing to make appearances.
These socially distanced engagements saw the Royal Family embrace the new normal, not shaking hands with people they met, applying hand sanitiser when needed and wearing face masks.
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William in particular have undertaken a number of engagements, seen wearing face masks on a visit to a care home in Cardiff at the beginning of this month.
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However for the monarch and Prince Philip, life could not be more different.
The Queen celebrated her 94th birthday in June in a scaled down Trooping the Colour ceremony in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
She cut a lonely figure watching the troops celebrate her big day, with no family or friends by her side.
Usually Trooping the Colour is a grand affair, with several if not all senior royals in attendance, watching from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
One engagement the Queen was able to undertake was the knighting of Captain Tom Moore in July, as thanks for his fundraising efforts for the NHS.
Now the Queen and Prince Philip have managed to head to Aberdeenshire for their annual trip to Balmoral, but even this has been drastically different.
Typically when the Queen and Philip stay at Balmoral for the summer, Royal Family members come to stay for weeks at a time.
But with social distancing measures, this could be tricky – and already one part of the family was seen on a socially distanced walk with the Queen around the Balmoral Grounds.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward and their two children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, visited the Queen at the start of August.
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Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank were also spotted arriving at Balmoral, but any visiting royals may have to stay in separate accommodation in line with social distancing rules.
Now royal watchers are predicting the Queen may never return to Buckingham Palace, which was her key location year round.
Instead, a report from the Sunday Times suggested the monarch may move base to Windsor Castle, which may be due to the ease of running with a smaller staff, reducing any coronavirus risk.
The Queen has continued to work during the pandemic, even addressing the nation twice, however is yet to hold any face-to-face engagements.
When the Queen may return to Buckingham Palace is unknown, but sources have said it may not be any earlier than 2021.
A royal source said: “There is a desire to get Buckingham Palace up and running again as a working palace, but only if all the relevant advice suggests that it is appropriate to do so.”
Sources say plans are being thought through so the Queen can safely attend commemorations at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday in November.
Royal biographer Andrew Morton, told The Sun in May of his fears the Queen may only be seen on TV or video links in future.
This is due to the risk of COVID-19 to both herself and Prince Philip.
Mr Morton, who wrote Diana: Her True Story in 1992, told the publication: “It’s terribly sad but I can’t see how the Queen can resume her usual job.
“The Covid-19 virus isn’t going away soon and will be with us for months, if not years.
The Queen has been getting to grips with video calls during the pandemic, but no doubt would be unhappy at no longer being able to attend public engagements if this were the case.
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