Queen ditches gloves amid coronavirus outbreak fears in latest palace engagement

The Queen went bare-handed for an audience at Buckingham Palace today amid the coronavirus scare after yesterday sparking concerns by wearing gloves at an investiture.

Tuesday saw speculation that the 93-year-old monarch was taking precautions over the deadly virus after she unusually donned white gloves for an investiture for the first time in more than 60 years.

But today, for her one-to-one audiences with dignitaries in her London residence, during which she has never worn gloves, she was back to being bare-handed.

The long-serving monarch's gloved appearance on Tuesday saw her hand out MBEs, OBEs and knighthoods and shake hands with a number of people.

Buckingham Palace refused to comment, but a palace source told the Mirror the "Queen and Palace staff would follow Government advice".


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But today the monarch dismissed any fears as she met the Ambassador of Cuba Barbara Elena Montalvo Alvarez and President of Malta George Vella, shaking bare hands with them.

On Tuesday the monarch's gloves, which also covered her wrist, sparked fears she would be taking precautions to avoid the spread of the disease, which has infected 87 Brits.

She usually hands out honours without gloves, as she carries out the fiddly task of fastening the awards to a hook on the recipients' lapels.


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She regularly wears them while out and about on public engagements, but Tuesday was believed to be the first time she's had them on at an investiture.

And she was expected to be wearing gloves during future appearances.  

Her Majesty turns 94 next month and the risk of severe coronavirus symptoms is greater for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

The Queen, dressed in a vibrant red dress, today held audiences with the dignitaries in the Palace's 1844 room.

As Buckingham Palace is following Government advice, it is therefore likely that the Queen will be helping to stop the spread of any germs by washing her hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or using hand sanitiser, more often, and regularly throughout the day.

The royal family's social media accounts posted footage of the monarch greeting the Maltese president and his wife, Miriam.

Mr Vella can be heard telling the Queen he had "always dreamt about" meeting her and "at last it has happened".

"Oh, that's very nice, isn't it," the Queen remarks.

The Queen lived in Malta during the early years of her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh, when Philip was serving in the Navy.

An audience is a brief, one-on-one meeting with the Queen, and they happen regularly throughout her working week.

The majority are for members of the diplomatic community, though the Queen also welcomes political, religious and military leaders, and people who have won prestigious cultural prizes.

Audiences generally last approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and the conversations which take place are entirely private.

The Queen shakes hands with her guests, who are often accompanied by a close family member, usually a spouse.

If they are diplomats, they hand the Queen their credentials – their Letters of Credence or Letters of High Commission.

England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said the death rate for people infected with coronavirus is "significantly ramped up" among those over the age of 80.

World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has advised anyone over the age of 60 to avoid crowded areas.

Around the world, people are rejecting handshakes and refusing kisses in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease.

A video widely shared showed people in China tapping their feet against one another – dubbed the "Wuhan Shake" – as a hands-free greeting.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will continue to shake hands with people despite the outbreak of coronavirus.

PMs usually have an audience with the Queen each Wednesday, where they typically shake the monarch's hand.

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