Coronavirus: Queen Elizabeth II postpones scheduled appearances, Prince Charles delays trip - USA TODAY

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  • 21 March 2020

Maria Puente USA TODAY

Published 4:35 PM EDT Mar 13, 2020

Queen Elizabeth II, who turns 94 next month, isn't taking unnecessary chances: She's postponing scheduled upcoming appearances as a "sensible precaution" against the coronavirus pandemic.

Buckingham Palace announced Friday the changes in her diary in a statement.

"As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, changes are being made to The Queen’s diary commitments in the coming weeks," the statement said.

"In consultation with the Medical Household and Government, Her Majesty’s forthcoming visits to Cheshire and Camden will be rescheduled."

However, audiences  – meetings at the palace between the monarch and visiting dignitaries – will continue as usual.

"Other events will be reviewed on an ongoing basis in line with the appropriate advice," the statement concluded.

Her heir and his wife, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also made a significant change in their travel plans. They will reschedule their mid-March tour of Jordan, Cyprus, and Bosnia and Herzegovina "owing to the unfolding situation with the Coronavirus pandemic," Clarence House announced.

Clarence House said the British government asked the prince to postpone the trip due to the developing situation with coronavirus. Charles is 71, Camilla is 72.

Coronavirus fears also are likely to delay the return of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex from Canada anytime soon. The London Marathon, which was supposed to take place April 26, has now been postponed to Oct.4, according to The Guardian and the BBC. Harry was supposed to attend, as he has in the past. 

Meanwhile, the fate of Harry's 2020 Invictus Games for wounded warriors, scheduled for May in The Hague, remained up in the air as other sporting events around Europe were being cancelled or postponed.

The Netherlands government plans to limit the hosting of events with more than 100 visitors at least until March 31, according to the Invictus website. Organizers now are working with Dutch authorities to plan for "a range of scenarios" to deliver the games.  

Aside from the sports, it was to be one of the few occasions in coming months to see Harry and Meghan together in public, as both were expected to attend the competition he founded in 2014. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have stepped back from front-line royal duties to move to Canada and become financially independent.

USA TODAY has reached out to the palace for comment.

Although the queen is generally in good health, her age puts her in the category of those most vulnerable to a bad outcome to contracting the virus now threatening the globe.

Most of those who have died from the virus were over age 60 and already had underlying medical issues.

Like everyone else in Britain and elsewhere, the royals are trying to adapt to a new normal, including elbow bumps among the young royals and Charles' namaste bows instead of handshakes. It's not an easy switch for royals accustomed to a lifetime of shaking hands with strangers.

The queen, who frequently wears gloves in public anyway, was photographed wearing long gloves while awarding a medal during an investiture last week. 

On the same day she presided over an audience in which she was gloveless, as she was on Feb. 27, when she received the ambassador of the Republic of Angola, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda: They shook hands without gloves. 

Although her schedule is less hectic nowadays, the monarch still carries out numerous public appearances every year in Britain, although she stopped traveling abroad some years ago.

On March 19, she was scheduled to travel to Cheshire in northwest England to visit the Bentley Motors Factory to mark its centenary; to stop at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, a leading radio astronomy observatoriy, to mark its inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and to visit the Square Kilometre Array Global Headquarters, an international collaboration to develop research in radio astronomy.

She was scheduled to do the usual things during a royal visit: sign guest books, unveil a plaque, plant trees and attend a private lunch.


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