Queen Elizabeth II has vowed to carry on with light duties after contracting COVID just as Britain was preparing to remove its last remaining restrictions related to the virus.
The Monarch, 95, led by example as she continued working while experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms.
Her attitude chimes with the government’s message nationally that Britain must move into a new phase without restrictions, described as “living with COVID.”
The policy will mean even those who have the virus aren’t required to isolate, BBC News reported.
However, Elizabeth’s health quickly became a battle ground for both sides of the lockdown debate and a cause célèbre for those opposing the end of restrictions.
Bonnie Greer, born in Chicago but a prominent U.K. writer and critic, said on Twitter: “Gee, somebody didn’t get the #Queen the message that #Covid is over because that’s why the restrictions are being lowered. Right? Right? #BackBorisJohnson out the door…”
However, Andrew Pierce, a Daily Mail columnist, wrote: “If the Queen, one of the most protected citizens in U.K., has covid doesn’t it show endless restrictions don’t stop omicron.”
The newspaper’s front page this morning will have made happy reading at the palace with the headline: “Queen’s COVID example to us all.”
The British press were also able to quote from a message the queen signed-off on, despite having the virus, in praise of Britain’s Winter Olympics team.
Her statement on Sunday, seen by Newsweek, read: “I send my warmest congratulations to the Team GB Women’s Curling team on your outstanding performance in winning the Gold Medal at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, following the Silver Medal achieved by the Men’s Curling team yesterday.”
However, for some her health was a symbol of the danger posed to elderly people across Britain from the government’s policy shift.
Author and activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu wrote on Twitter: “The Queen is Covid +. 1. I wish the Queen swift recovery & I hope the ‘light duties’ means she’s self isolating to avoid worse symptoms & transmission.
“2. The mess that is Boris Johnson policy on zero Covid restrictions will put the elderly & vulnerable like the Queen more at risk.”
The queen has led by example during the pandemic before, most notably when she sat alone during Prince Philip’s COVID-compliant funeral on April 17, 2021.
That contrasts with the government’s record after Downing Street staff were accused of holding two parties the night before.
Political activist Femi Oluwole wrote on Twitter: “For anyone keeping track of what Boris Johnson has done to the Queen:
🔻 Lied to her
🔻 Implicated her in illegally shutting Parliament
🔻 Made her sit alone at her husband’s funeral while his office were hungover
🔻 Scrapped covid restrictions and 3 weeks later she gets Covid.”
Adam Brooks, a panelist for GB News, a TV channel that says it does “not shy away from controversial issues,” wrote on Twitter: “You’ve got to be a special kind of idiot to use the Queen testing positive for Covid, to demand restrictions stay in place.
“I use the word idiot as a kinder version of what I actually want to use.”
Even in America, the queen’s experiences have been held up as a political symbol.
Activist Charlotte Clymer wrote on Twitter: “Queen Elizabeth II is 95 and experiencing only ‘mild symptoms’ after testing positive for COVID.
“If that’s not a ringing endorsement for the effectiveness of vaccines, I don’t know what is.”