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CoronavirusQueen Elizabeth II

The Queen receives update on military life on video call

The Queen, Elizabeth II

We’ve got used to seeing royalty on video calls in these past months but there’s something different about it when the Queen is involved. And although the latest video call made by Her Majesty isn’t the first she’s shared with the world, it’s still a first in its own way. For the Queen has received one of her regular updates on military life via WebEx.

Hearing what’s going on in the Army, Navy and Air Force is a constant in the Queen’s life. As Head of the Armed Forces, she is given constant updates about operations and military life. But the coronavirus pandemic means that face to face visits aren’t possible right now. So on July 14th 2020, the Royal Family shared a video call that saw Her Majesty speaking to members of the Army, Navy and RAF as well as the Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Carter to find out how their current experiences.

If there were any problems with sound or any shouts of ”you’re on mute”, they were edited out of the version that is now available to see on the Royal Family’s You Tube channel. Instead, this call began with a cheerful ”Good Morning” from all participants and a bow from General Sir Nicholas Carter.

It was the Chief of Defence Staff who also welcomed the Queen to the call, telling Her Majesty that ”it’s a great honour for the Armed Forces that you’ve taken the time to meet some of our people serving around the world.”

The Queen meets members of the Armed Forces, introduced to her by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, during a video call
(Royal Family You Tube still/ fair use)

And the participants in the call were spread far and wide. Lieutenant Colonel Barrie Terry, who is currently on a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali told the Queen about the long time he’s spent apart from his loved ones, having arrived on deployment at the end of November 2019. ”I’ve been out here for Christmas, Easter and the summer,” Lieutenant Colonel Terry said, ”unfortunately the Covid crisis has meant that the rest and recuperation flights have been put on hold”.

Able Rate Sophie Levy spoke to the Queen from her cabin on board RFA Argus in the Caribbean where she is undertaking her first operational deployment. Her Majesty joked with her that she was keeping busy as she described her day which involves moving the ship’s tractor and helicopters. And The Queen reminded her that they had met before, in Holyport, when she was the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet and asked her if that had been ”an opening into the Navy”. Able Rate Levy replied ”it definitely gave me an insight, Ma’am, and it gave me the confidence and the experience that I need to pursue my career.”

Lance Corporal Shanwayne Stephens of the RAF has also been on parade before the Queen many times, having taken part in many major events including the State Opening of Parliament and the Festival of Remembrance during his eight years with the Queen’s Colour Squadron. Speaking from his home in Lincoln, he described the many state occasions he’s been involved with and told the Queen that ”I know it quite well”.

That raised a laugh from the Monarch as did Lance Corporal Stephens’ other revelation – that he is pilot of the Jamaica bobsleigh team. When asked how he trained, Lance Corporal Stephens explained ”unorthodox sort of training methods so I’ve been pushing a car up and down the street” before he and the Queen both began laughing. ”I suppose that’s one way to train,” was the royal response.

The Queen ended the call by saying ”it’s very interesting to hear about all the deployments and obviously everybody has been extremely busy with the pandemic…and doing a wonderful job. I’m very glad to have been able to meet all of you and the best of luck.”

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.