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Queen holds first virtual diplomatic audience

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·2-min read

The Queen has held her first virtual diplomatic audience greeting foreign ambassadors in Buckingham Palace – from her Windsor Castle home.

Following tradition three ambassadors presented their credentials to the monarch but via a video link, staged in line with medical advice.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh spent much of the second lockdown in England at their Berkshire residence and announced earlier this week they will remain at Windsor Castle for Christmas, forgoing the annual royal gathering at Sandringham.

The Queen appears on screen from Windsor Castle during the virtual audiences. Yui Mok/PA Wire
The Queen appears on screen from Windsor Castle during the virtual audiences (Yui Mok/PA)

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “Diplomatic audiences are a long standing and traditional part of the monarch’s role and the hope has always been to restart them as soon as possible.

“A variety of options were considered in line with current guidelines to reintroduce diplomatic audiences while retaining some of the long-established ceremonial elements, such as the use of Buckingham Palace.”

She added: “At this time, in line with medical advice, Her Majesty will conduct diplomatic audiences virtually from Windsor Castle.”

The Queen held three separate diplomatic audiences with Sophie Katsarava, ambassador of Georgia, Gil da Costa, ambassador of Timor-Leste also known as East Timor, and Ferenc Kumin, ambassador of Hungary, and his wife Viktoria Kumin.

Gil da Costa, ambassador of Timor Leste also known as East Timor, also had an audience with the Queen. Yui Mok/PA Wire
Gil da Costa, ambassador of Timor Leste also known as East Timor, also had an audience with the Queen (Yui Mok/PA)

The diplomats were in the Equerry’s Room at Buckingham Palace while the Queen was sitting in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle.

Diplomatic audiences have remained almost unchanged since the Victorian era with ambassadors still collected from their embassy or residence in a State landau, a ceremonial horse-drawn carriage, and taken to Buckingham Palace to present their credentials the Queen.

Tradition was followed for Friday’s unique event with the top diplomats enjoying a horse-drawn ride thought the streets of London to the monarch’s official residence.

The Queen has held an audience via video link before speaking virtually with Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, upon his appointment in July.

The head of state’s last audience in person at Buckingham Palace was on March 18, with Commodore Stephen Moorhouse, the outgoing commanding officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and his successor Captain Angus Essenhigh.