Queen Elizabeth II Briefly Experiments With Wearing a Face Mask

The 94-year-old covered up in public for the first time ever, though only for a bit.

Queen Elizabeth II wearing a face mask
Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Three weeks ago, Queen Elizabeth II resurfaced for the first time in seven months to visit a chemical weapons lab in Salisbury, England. It was a marked departure from how she’d previously been spending the pandemic, holed up with her horses at Windsor Castle. There were 50 attendees in total, some of whom weren’t always properly distanced from the Queen. Most importantly, though, the 94-year-old—whose age puts her at risk for severe consequences from Covid-19—didn’t wear a face mask. The reactions of shock and concern were so swift that within hours, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson issued a statement insisting “all necessary precautions [were] taken.”

But the Queen, like Kate Middleton before her, now seems to have changed her tune. Last week, for the first time since the pandemic began, she was spotted wearing a face mask. And only three others—the Queen’s Equerry and Piper, as well as the Dean of Westminster—joined her at Westminster Abbey, where they paid their respects to the British soldiers whose bodies have remained unidentified or unrecovered since they died during World War II. (She specifically requested the private visit, after other Remembrance Day events were scaled back.)

Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, November 2020.

Aaron Chown/PA Wire via Getty Images

The master color-coordinator dressed in all black for the somber affair. Naturally, that meant her mask was also black, made of cloth with a white trim.

The Queen, whom the Dean described as in “good spirits and good health,” has been advised against joining Charles and his wife Camilla at an Armistice Day service next week. And yet, it was less than a week before she made another outing—this time, sans mask, even though there were markedly more attendees. Technically, she still wasn’t breaking the law; face masks are required in most indoor settings, like places of worship, but not in outdoor settings, like the balcony where the Queen joined fellow royals Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, and Kate Middleton on Sunday.

Queen Elizabeth II and her lady-in-waiting, Susan Rhodes, watch the National Service of Remembrance from the balcony of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, November 2020.

Pool/Max Mumby via Getty Images

So far, Prince Charles and Prince William are the only core members of the royal family known to have contracted Covid-19. Of course, there’s a chance that others have, too: William got it back in April, but only revealed his diagnosis last week.

Related: Kate Middleton Finally Realizes She Should Wear a Face Mask