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Queen wears face mask as she carries out first engagement in London since March

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Queen seen in face mask for the first time

The Queen has been seen wearing a face mask as she carried out her first engagement in London since March after moving back to Windsor Castle.

The Queen visited the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, just hours before England went back into lockdown.

During the poignant ceremony, a bouquet of flowers featuring some of the blooms she had on her wedding day was placed on the tomb.

A royal aide said the ceremony was “deeply personal” for her.

It was the first time she had returned to the capital since March, when she left Buckingham Palace to go to Windsor Castle, where she usually spends her weekends.

She is there with the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, who was flown down from Sandringham and they spent the lockdown together, the longest period of time they had lived together in years as Philip has retired to Norfolk.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020. The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War and whose body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen was seen in a face mask for the first time. (Aaron Chown - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: The Queen's Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II (centre) during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020. The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War and whose body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen's Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II (centre). (Aaron Chown - WPA Pool)

After the ceremony, Dr David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster, said: “It was wonderful to see Her Majesty in such good spirits and good health.

“We talked about the centenary and the life of the Abbey. This is the place where she was married and she’s conscious of those associations.

“This is a moment where the Abbey does its job as the national place of worship. The story of the unknown warrior touches us all. It’s very hard for all churches to shut their doors, it goes against everything we are ordained to do, which is to gather people together.

“Like so many communities, we’re divided and that’s difficult. It is very special for Her Majesty to do this, given the current restrictions. I know, because people tell me, that these moments when Her Majesty is in the Abbey gives us a sense of renewed purpose and encouragement. It makes us feel very privileged.”

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LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Queen Elizabeth II arrives for a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020. The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War and whose body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II arrives for a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on 4 November. (Aaron Chown - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Queen Elizabeth II inspects a bouquet of flowers placed on her behalf at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020. The grave of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified British serviceman who died on the battlefields during the First World War and whose body was brought from Northern France and buried at Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1920. (Photo by Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen inspects a bouquet of flowers placed on her behalf at the grave of the Unknown Warrior by her Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah. (Aaron Chown - WPA Pool)

The Queen and the duke managed to go to Scotland for their annual Summer holiday, and then went back to Sandringham.

They are now back together in Windsor, in Berkshire, where they could end up staying for Christmas dependant on rules in place on travel in England when the festive season comes around.

During lockdown, the Queen adapted to modern technology and was seen on a couple of video engagements.

She was keen to get back to in person engagements and paid a visit to Porton Down in Salisbury with her grandson Prince William on 15 October.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip pause at the grave of the unknown warrior during a Maundy Service on her 85th birthday at Westminster Abbey in London April 21, 2011.  REUTERS/Arthur Edwards/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS RELIGION SOCIETY)
Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip at the grave of the unknown warrior during a Maundy Service on her 85th birthday at Westminster Abbey in 2011. (Reuters)

During that engagement there was some criticism of the Queen for not wearing a face covering, though everyone involved in the event had tested negative beforehand.

Most of the October event was outside, but the law now states face coverings are required in places of worship, making it harder for the Queen to avoid one in the Abbey.

The Queen is understood to have requested that the ceremony go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, and popped into Buckingham Palace while she was in the capital.

A royal source said: “The grave of the unknown warrior is as relevant and poignant today as it was when Her Majesty’s grandfather and father stood in the Abbey at its side 100 years ago. It holds enormous significance for the country and the royal family.

“The Queen was keen that the centenary was marked appropriately. A simple but deeply personal act reflecting a tradition started by her mother 97 years ago felt the right thing to do.”

The Queen is expected to be at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, which this year is 8 November, alongside other members of the Royal Family.