One is back, virtually at least.
Hale and hearty was the message beaming out from Windsor Castle Tuesday, as Queen Elizabeth II shrugged off fears over her health to perform her first public duty since a secretive hospitalization sparked concern for the 95-year old’s well-being last week.
Her Majesty, wearing a bold yellow dress and a pearl necklace, held an online audience with a series of new ambassadors, including new South Korean Ambassador Gunn Kim, who wore the nation’s traditional dress of a tall “gat” hat and a gown.
Photographs of the meetings, showing a beaming queen, were distributed by Her Majesty’s office. Photos were provided of both ends of the meetups, with pictures of the queen talking to her screen at Windsor Castle and photos of her appearing on screen at Buckingham Palace.
It was a clear attempt to draw a line under the uncertainty of the past few days.
The palace’s reputation for the usually smooth handling of issues relating to the queen’s health was damaged last week when her office attempted to cover up details of her overnight stay in a private London hospital.
The palace was forced to admit that the queen had spent a night in hospital after tabloid newspaper the Sun revealed the news.
The sight of the monarch engaging in her formal duties today will provide reassurance that she is on the mend after a fraught few days that have seen her hospitalized, miss an important trip to Northern Ireland and miss church on Sunday. She has also not been walking her dogs every day as is her usual custom, instead following doctor’s orders to rest and deputizing the task to her staff.
The palace has been insistent that the queen is in good spirits and working from home.
While the messaging from today’s online audience is clear, the real test will come next week when the queen, who has recently started to use a walking stick in public, is scheduled to open the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
There has been no change announced to the plan so far, but a report in The Sunday Times this week said that the queen was “knackered.”
The report said the queen had maintained a busy social life since her husband’s death this year, with “a flow of lunches and dinners with family and friends, because the queen does not want to dine alone.” Another courtier told The Sunday Times: “It’s been too much.”
The queen’s appearance today seeks to nudge the narrative in a very different direction.