The 94-year-old monarch was back to business as she carried out her first public engagement outside a royal residence since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the nation. She was joined by her grandson the Duke of Cambridge at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, meeting scientists providing vital support in the UK’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But the pair have come under fire for not wearing face masks during the visit.
Journalist Darren McCaffrey tweeted: “The Queen, a future King and a policeman – but no mask in sight.
“Should they be setting an example and wearing one?”
Martin McHugh replied: “One hundred percent they should. Doesn’t matter your age of who you are.”
Colette Jones said: “So disappointed in their behaviour. They are supposed to be role models.”
Royal author Omid Scobie commented: “While sensible and safe precautions 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.”
Meanwhile anti-monarchy group, Republic tweeted: “Is that how the rules work?”
Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said: “The Queen should be setting an example.
“I can’t see how this fits with the rules everyone else is expected to follow, so the Palace needs to come up with a rules-compliant explanation.”
Royal commentator Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the Queen and William would inevitably be criticised, but medical advice would have been carefully followed.
He said: “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,” Mr Little said.
He described the Queen’s engagement as offering a “visible and timely reassurance” during the global pandemic.