Today was a big day: Queen Elizabeth II attended her first in-person engagement since March alongside her grandson Prince William. Since the coronavirus spread was declared a pandemic, the 94-year-old Queen has appeared only virtually through video calls, photographs, and messages. At the first outing, the pair toured and met with staff the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the British military's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which is located about 90 miles outside of London.
But royal observers were shocked by one detail: Neither the Queen nor William were wearing masks. In fact, nobody at the event wore a mask. Wrote royal reporter Chris Ship on Twitter, "Buckingham Palace says the Queen was not wearing a face mask (and nor was Prince William) after consulting her own medics and those who work at [the laboratory]."
The palace said that the decision to go sans mask was decided after consulting the queen's medical team: "Specific advice has been sought from the medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with [the laboratory]." Ship also noted that all the laboratory staff was tested for the virus before the Queen's arrival, and the test results came back as negative. Kensington Palace declared to comment on whether Prince William had been tested.
Royal commentator Joe Little weighed in to Herald Scotland, saying: "The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge will inevitably be criticised for not wearing a face covering, but medical advice was sought while the royal visit was being planned and social distancing seemingly was maintained throughout. 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."
It's widely known how important masks are in slowing down the spread of the virus—and people are upset by the news. It's worth noting that other members of the royal family, including Kate Middleton and William himself, have been photographed wearing masks recently.