Queen Elizabeth drew a lot of criticisms when she made her first public appearance on Thursday, after seven months since the lockdown. Her Majesty visited a science and technology laboratory in Salisbury with her grandson, Prince William, but both royals did not have a face mask on.
A source from the Palace told Daily Mirror that Queen Elizabeth flew to Salisbury from Windsor Castle via helicopter while Prince William arrived in a separate vehicle. However, no one brought a mask to the event but the monarch still proceeded to her engagement after gaining much-needed medical advice from the royal medical household.
About 48 people welcomed Queen Elizabeth and Prince William at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and all of them underwent COVID-19 tests prior to the meeting. These staff members, who were all negative, were part of the country's coronavirus response team so no one is more "well-versed" about the safety precautions that this group.
According to The Guardian, Prince William also had his coronavirus test and was negative before he met up with his grandmother. Those who met the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge also observed social distancing from each other at all times. Witnesses said that Queen Elizabeth was in a jovial mood and even managed to crack a joke when she signed the guest book at the laboratory facility.
But, Finding Freedom author Omid Scobie said while it appears the people who organized this royal engagement had been sensible and took safety precautions, seeing world leaders like Queen Elizabeth with face mask on brings such strong visuals. He's suggesting that it would have helped with public education, especially after U.K. enforced tighter restrictions this week. The public agreed with the royal journalist and said that mask should be mandatory, regardless of the personality since the virus is still present.
Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy group Republic also criticized the Queen. He said that the monarch should have set an example. Presenter Piers Morgan also posted on Twitter that it was not a smart move to ditch the face masks as the country is primed for another round of lockdown.
But, Joe Little of the Majesty magazine said safety precautions were maintained during the whole visit so there was no cause for worry. He believes that the Queen delivered a timely message of reassurance that normal life can still continue amid the crisis. Other netizens on social media also said that the Queen would not have been at the royal engagement if she was advised otherwise and did not think it was safe.