Anyone who knows me well knows I am a fervent fan of Her Majesty The Queen. Which was why I was so surprised to see the pictures of Her Majesty’s joint engagement with Prince William yesterday. Neither royal (nor the staff accompanying them) wore masks on their visit to open the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, located in Porton Down, Wiltshire. This was the Queen’s first public engagement in seven months, and while Buckingham Palace insisted they consulted doctors regarding the need to wear a mask and that everyone involved in the day’s events tested negative for the coronavirus, it felt to me like a rare misstep for the Queen.
The cases of coronavirus are sharply spiking in many parts of Europe and North America. We need to do everything we can to promote the wearing of masks in public, and this includes having prominent members of society using them.
Even though all participants tested negative, I still would have liked to see the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge lead by example and wear a mask in public. Masks have been shown to greatly reduce coronavirus transmission, and it would have sent a strong message to the public for the Queen to be seen wearing one, especially since she is arguably the most famous person in the world. The Queen’s lack of mask was also striking because some of the people she met were scientists and microbiologists conducting research on the coronavirus. Also puzzling was the fact that Prince William was mask-free even though he has been seen at past engagements this year with a mask.
The monarchy should always lead by example, especially amid an unprecedented global crisis. Even though it was deemed safe for the Queen, Prince William, and the other participants in yesterday’s Porton Down visit to not wear masks, they should have worn them to encourage others to always wear a mask in public and signal how serious the monarchy is taking this global health challenge. I couldn’t help but think that HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother would have definitely worn a mask. Let’s hope the Queen and other members of the Royal Family start wearing masks in public on future engagements.