The Queen has carried out her first formal engagements at Buckingham Palace since returning to London from her Christmas break. Two days after getting back from Sandringham, Elizabeth II welcomed diplomats to her home in the capital for official audiences.
Of course, the Queen has been carrying on all the business of state since the old year turned into the new around six weeks ago now. The red boxes don’t stop and we caught glimpses of her going to and from church. The Court Circular has already listed several events during 2019 but those were behind closed doors. Today’s audiences mark the moment the Queen’s official diary in London got under way.
Elizabeth II welcomed the Hon. Vicki O’Halloran to the Palace to mark her appointment as Adminstrator of the Northern Territory of Australia. The role is similar to that of a state governor and is appointed by the Governor General of Australia. Vicki O’Halloran was accompanied to the audience by her husband. Craig.
The Queen’s second audience was with Milton Inniss to mark his appointment as High Commissioner of Barbados. As the Royal Family’s official Twitter account explained, High Commissioners and Ambassadors in London are received by the Queen near to the start of their tenure with around 170 in office at any one time.
An audience with the Queen lasts around twenty minutes and, according to the Royal Family website, it’s an opportunity for Her Majesty to ”give time and focus to key individuals”. Several are held every week and they are always private – no recordings or notes are made of the events. However, generally, diplomatic audiences focus on issues and events currently having an impact in the home country of the person being received. The Queen also holds political audiences as well as receiving people who have been presented with special awards or made important contributions in all parts of society.
The Queen spent the first part of the year at Sandringham. After Christmas and New Year, she traditionally remains at her Norfolk home until after February 6th, the anniversary of her father’s death and her own accession. She arrived back in the capital on Monday, taking the train from Kings Lynn. Elizabeth II will hold dozens of audiences through the rest of 2019 but these first two, today, mark the start of her London diary for the year ahead.