Yesterday was a momentous occasion for the Queen, as she carried out her first public visit since March. The monarch paid a visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory along with Prince William, where they met scientists working on our COVID-19 response, and officially opened the lab's new Energetics Analysis Centre.
But there's one particularly striking thing about the pictures from the day; there doesn't seem to be a mask in sight. The Queen arrived at the engagement near Salisbury via helicopter, and was photographed in her rose-coloured cashmere coat. But while she could probably easily have found a nice floral mask to match on Etsy, it seems Her Majesty didn't need one.
People online certainly noticed the lack of mask, and were quick to point it out. "The Queen, a future King and a policeman - but no mask in sight... Should they be setting an example and wearing one?" wrote one person on Twitter, alongside a photo of Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and a police officer. Other, similar comments flooded social media, questioning why the monarch and everyone in her party went without a mask.
But actually, it seems that all was pretty legitimate.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said on the matter: "Specific advice has been sought from the medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with Dstl."
The rules in England in regards to masks are that they should be worn indoors when "social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet." As social distancing took place, and part of the visit was also outside, the decision was clearly made that a mask was not necessary in the same way it would have been in a supermarket, for example.
Plus, it's been reported that all 48 people the Queen came into distant contact with ahead of the event were all tested for COVID-19 - and all tests came back negative. You can probably assume the royal family is being given regular tests, too - especially ahead of events - and so the judgment was made that the event could go ahead mask-free.
Posting in defence of Her Majesty, radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer posted on Twitter: "The Queen is standing outdoors and far away from anyone else. Why on earth would she need to wear a mask?"
Others, in contrast, think that regardless of all the necessary precautions, it would have been a good example to set for the Queen to appear in public with a face mask on. Royal expert Omid Scobie, who also co-authored Finding Freedom, the controversial new biography on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was certainly in the latter camp.
"My two cents," he wrote on Twitter. "While sensible and safe precautious were clearly made, I do worry that most people seeing the photos/videos won’t know the back story. As the majority of the UK enters tighter restrictions, seeing leaders in masks would have been a strong visual."
What do you think?
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