A royal aide at Buckingham Palace has reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus while Queen Elizabeth II was still at her London residence. The 93-year-old monarch shifted out of the palace to Windsor Castle indefinitely on Thursday as a "precaution" after all her engagements were cancelled and reports are that she is healthy.
According to UK media reports, it is not known how close the royal aide in question would have got to the Queen but every member of Royal Household staff the person came into contact with has since been placed self-isolation.
"The worker tested positive before the Queen left for Windsor. But the Palace has 500 members of staff so, like any workplace, it's not inconceivable it would be affected in some stage," 'The Sun' quoted a royal source as saying.
The aide, who has not been named, is believed to have taken ill and tested positive for the deadly virus earlier last week. Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the reports but said that it was taking all necessary steps in light of the advisory in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been rapidly spreading in the UK as the death toll rose to 233 on Saturday.
"We wouldn't comment on individual members of staff. In line with the appropriate guidance and our own processes, we have taken the necessary actions to protect all employees and people involved," a palace spokesperson said.
There are some reports that the monarch is preparing to deliver a live television broadcast in the coming days as a morale boost for the public during the ongoing crisis, which has put Britain into a near shutdown with all social venues closed indefinitely and people advised to stay indoors and follow strict social distancing rules.
Earlier this week, the Queen had issued a statement of support and called on people to find new ways of staying in touch to get through the lockdown. "Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge," read the Queen's statement, which said that she and the royal family "stand ready" to play their part.
"We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals - today and in the coming days, weeks and months," she said.
The Queen, who turns 94 on April 21, is set to be based at Windsor Castle in south-east England with her 98-year-old husband Prince Philip for an extended period following consultation with her medical experts and the UK government.
Her regular "audiences" with Prime Minister Boris Johnson are set to continue for now but Buckingham Palace said that as a "sensible precaution and for practical reasons", a number of other changes are being made to the rest of her diary.