LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II’s health appeared to be deteriorating sharply on Thursday, with Buckingham Palace saying her doctors were “concerned” about her health while her family members rushed to her side.
The Queen, aged 96 and who has ruled for 70 years, has been placed under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, her Scottish Highlands property, The palace said in a statement. And on Wednesday evening, she abruptly canceled a virtual meeting with members of the Privy Council after her doctors advised her to rest.
“Following further assessment this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned about Her Majesty’s health and have recommended that she remain under medical supervision,” the palace said in a statement.
The office of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his wife Camilla said they had traveled to be with the Queen at Balmoral Castle, where Elizabeth spends most of the summer. His eldest son, Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, was also on his way to Scotland, as were the Queen’s other sons, Andrew and Edward. Her daughter Princess Anne was already there.
Details of the Queen’s health are unknown, although the palace has said in the past that she has mobility problems. She recovered from a bout with Covid-19 in February, but later said it left her exhausted.
In a photo released by the palace on Tuesday of her and new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, the queen held a wand in her left hand.
The Queen’s deteriorating health has been a frequent cause of concern over the past few years, forcing her to cancel many public appearances, and even official events such as her annual commemoration of Britain’s wartime dead.
She has largely retreated to Windsor Castle, her country residence outside London, although this year she has kept her summer habit of moving to Balmoral, a castle set amid the rocky hills of Scotland and the Sylvan Valleys.
During the Platinum Jubilee in June, marking the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, a smiling queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a military parade and an RAF aircraft in her honor. But it skipped most of the rest of the festivities, including a concert held on Queen Victoria Square in front of the palace.
With the Queen receding from public opinion, her heir Charles assumed many of her public duties, including the formal opening of Parliament and the award of knighthood. I stopped traveling outside Britain several years ago.
In April 2021, the Queen lost her husband Prince Philip, 73, who died just weeks before his 100th birthday. At Philip’s memorial service, she sat, disguised and lonely, in a choir booth at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, a poignant symbol of the pandemic’s social distancing restrictions.
Even in her declining state, the Queen was a constant and revered figure in the country’s public life. During the depths of the pandemic, she addressed a socially isolated nation, reassuring Britons, in the words of Vera Lynn’s beloved WWII-era song, that “we will meet again.”
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