Queen heads to top-secret lab on her first royal visit since March

Clay Curtis
October 16, 2020

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of wearing masks in public, people might have expected the royal family to set an example for others. In fact all 48 people who came into close contact with the royal during the visit had also been tested for COVID-19, with the site being kept secure and minimal staff involved.

The two royals maintained strict social distancing, arriving separately by helicopter, but Buckingham Palace did confirm that their decision not to wear a mask was by choice rather than any related health issue.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Cambridge opened the Energetics Analysis Centre.

It is the first time the Queen has ventured from a royal residence, outside of her household of reduced staff - dubbed HMS Bubble - to carry out her duties as head of state since before lockdown.

She was joined by Prince Philip, and the couple have stayed at the estate for the majority of lockdown.

The monarch was joined by Prince William for the visit, and both had tested negative to the virus beforehand.

For the visit, which was her first external engagement in seven months, the Queen dressed in her trademark block colours - a pink Stewart Parvin coat and floral silk dress with a matching Rachel Trevor Morgan hat.

Britain's Prince William looks on as Queen Elizabeth II unveils a plaque to officially open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down England Thursday Oct. 15 2020 to view the Energetics

In another speech to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, she told how the message at the end of the war in Europe was "never give up, never despair".

The formal goal of the trip was to open the lab's new Energetics Analysis Centre, where the queen and the prince were given a demonstration of a forensic explosives investigation. "The Queen's first official engagement away from a royal residence for the first time in seven months delivers a visible and timely reassurance that daily life can continue during the pandemic in a modified form, even for someone in their 95th year".

She and William were due to be shown displays of weaponry and tactics used in counterintelligence. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory was involved in dealing with the Salisbury Novichok nerve agent attack in 2018.

She spent lockdown at the Berkshire residence for her safety and the summer privately in Balmoral and Sandringham.

Russian intelligence has been accused of being behind the attempted nerve agent assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Her Majesty also added a further sweet touch to her outfit, wearing her Andrew Grima yellow gold, diamond and carved ruby brooch - which was a romantic gift from husband Prince Philip dating back to 1966.

Coronavirus | European cases rocket, strong limits needed
At a virtual press conference on Thursday, WHO ( World Health Organization ) Regional Director for Europe Dr. Germany also registered 33 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the RKI added, bringing its total to 9,710.

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