Queen points to mobility problem during in-person audience at Windsor

The 95-year-old monarch has faced a Covid scare, and also spent more than three months carrying out only light duties on doctors’ orders.

16 February 2022

The Queen has indicated she has trouble moving as she held her first in-person audience since her Covid scare amid a turbulent week for the royal family.

The 95-year-old monarch, standing while using a walking stick, pointed to her left leg or foot, and remarked: “Well, as you can see, I can’t move” during the official engagement at Windsor Castle.

She held the audience with the incoming Defence Services Secretary, Major General Eldon Millar, and his predecessor, Rear Admiral James Macleod, on Wednesday.

Audience at Windsor Castle
The Queen meets Rear Admiral James Macleod and Major General Eldon Millar at Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

The Queen is understood to have been feeling slightly stiff, rather than having injured herself or being unwell.

For more than three months, she was ordered to rest and only carry out light duties after spending a night in hospital undergoing preliminary tests in October.

Her remarks are likely to raise some concern over her frailty.

It was the head of state’s first in-person appearance since her Covid scare six days ago, suggesting she may have escaped the virus despite coming into contact with the Prince of Wales, who tested positive two days later.

The Palace has continued to refuse to confirm whether the Queen tested positive or negative, citing medical privacy, and last week saying only that she was not displaying any symptoms.

Audience at Windsor Castle
The Queen used a walking stick when she met the incoming and outgoing Defence Service Secretaries at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

In footage of the audience, the Queen, wearing a geometric patterned dress, can be heard remarking loudly with a chuckle to the military men as they arrived: “Oh, I’m here! I thought you might have just stayed in there for ages. Good morning.”

Asked how she was, the Queen, using her stick and only moving forward a fraction with a couple of tiny steps, said: “Well, as you can see I can’t move.”

Rear Admiral Macleod remarked: “Well, many congratulations on the start of your Jubilee year”, with the Queen saying: “Oh, thank you very much indeed. That’s very kind.”

The visitors revealed that they had been growled at by the Queen’s elderly dog, Candy the dorgi, as they made their way through the monarch’s apartment.

Rear Admiral Macleod told her: “I notice you’ve got Candy keeping guard because, as we came down the corridor, she was not going to let us get anywhere near you.”

Maj General Millar added: “She gave a little growl as we came in.”

Platinum Jubilee
The Queen with Candy the dorgi as she views Jubilee memorabilia (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Queen replied: “Oh really? … Did she? She doesn’t normally growl.”

Rear Admiral Macleod quipped: “She obviously can see through us.”

Candy played a starring role when the Queen viewed memorabilia ahead of her Platinum Jubilee, when the dog – a cross between a corgi and a dachshund – wandering up to the monarch for a stroke and looking for a treat.

It has been a challenging week for the Queen, despite having just reached the historic milestone, and the royal family.

Her second son, the Duke of York, is facing a multimillion-pound payout after settling his sex case out of court, her eldest son Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall caught Covid, and now the Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into a cash-for-honours scandal involving the Prince of Wales’s charitable foundation.

The monarch will have been taking daily lateral flow tests over the past seven days, in keeping with current guidelines, and will have been closely monitored by her royal physicians.

On the table behind her during the audience were family photographs of her with her great-grandchildren, as well as an extra large Fortnum & Mason Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection Box, and a box of Bendicks Mint Collection – an assortment of dark mint chocolates.

Audience at Windsor Castle
The Queen during the audience – with chocolates on the table behind her (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Defence Services Secretary is the official liaison between the sovereign and the armed forces.

They are a member of the Royal Household, and the official link between the Queen and the Secretary of State for Defence and the Chiefs of Staff on all matters concerning the monarch’s relationship with the armed forces.

There will be much for Maj Gen Millar to discuss with the Queen, in the wake of Andrew losing his military titles.

The duke agreed an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre on Tuesday, after she sued him claiming she was trafficked by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew’s friend, to have sex with the royal when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

The duke, who is facing a reported £12 million payout, was stripped of his honorary military roles by his mother last month.

The Queen and the Duke of York
The Queen stripped the Duke of York of his honorary military roles last month (Joe Giddens/PA)

But his royal replacements in eight British regiments – including the prestigious post of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards – have yet to be announced.

Questions are also being raised over his service rank of Vice Admiral, but Buckingham Palace confirmed the situation has not changed and that the duke retains the rank.

As a former royal member of the armed forces who served in the Royal Navy, he was by convention promoted in line with his still-serving peers and made Vice Admiral by the Navy on his 55th birthday in 2015.

Other publicly unresolved issues surrounding the monarchy and the armed forces include the Duke of Sussex’s former military titles.

Harry’s previous roles – Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands’ Small Ships and Diving – have yet to be officially announced as having been passed on to other members of the family.

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into a cash-for-honours scandal linked to Charles’s The Prince’s Foundation charity (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Defence Services Secretary is on a three-year rotation.

The last time a new holder took on the appointment in 2019, the Queen held an audience with the incoming secretary, Rear Admiral Macleod, and the outgoing Air Vice-Marshal Garry Tunnicliffe.

But six days later, Andrew, in his role as Vice Admiral, received the Rear Admiral and the Air Vice-Marshal at Buckingham Palace, in an official engagement recorded in the Court Circular in April 2019.

There will be no such audience in the wake of the Queen’s meeting.

The duke, who no longer uses his HRH style, does not carry out public duties, having been cast adrift from the monarchy as a result of the lawsuit.

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