The Queen has contracted Covid, Buckingham Palace has announced.
The monarch, 95, has tested positive for the virus and is experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms” but expects to carry out “light duties” this week.
The head of state has fallen ill after it was confirmed she had been in direct contact with her eldest son and heir, the Prince of Wales, the week he had the disease.
Covid symptoms may appear from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, but it is understood a number of cases have also been diagnosed among the Windsor Castle team.
The shock announcement was made just a few weeks after the nation’s longest-reigning monarch reached her historic Platinum Jubilee of 70 years on the throne on February 6.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “Buckingham Palace confirm that The Queen has today tested positive for Covid.
“Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.
“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.
Concern across the nation will be at peak levels for the Queen given her advanced age and her health scare in recent months, and her popularity in a country where many have known no other monarch on the throne.
The Royal Household has its own royal physicians and the Queen’s doctors will be on hand to take care of and monitor the head of state, with Professor Sir Huw Thomas, head of the Medical Household and Physician to the Queen, expected to be in charge.
The monarch carried out her first major public engagement for more than three months on Saturday February 5, the eve of her Jubilee, when she met charity workers at Sandringham House, cut a celebratory cake and used a walking stick to rest on.
The Queen is understood to be triple vaccinated but she had been on doctors’ order to rest since mid October, after cancelling a run of engagements and spending a night in hospital undergoing preliminary tests.
She is believed to have spent time with Charles on Tuesday February 8, when he hosted an investiture at her Windsor Castle home, and a few days later he tested positive for Covid but made a quick recovery to full health.
The Duchess of Cornwall has also tested positive for Covid, with Clarence House confirming on Monday February 14 that the duchess was self isolating.
It is the second time the future king has caught the virus, with Charles contracting Covid in March 2020 when he had mild symptoms, lost his sense of smell and taste and isolated at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate.
The Queen, whose husband the Duke of Edinburgh died 10 months ago, spent much of the pandemic in the safety of Windsor Castle, protected in ‘HMS Bubble’, the nickname given to her reduced household of dedicated staff.
The monarch, who for almost two years escaped contracting Covid, has served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation weeks apart.
She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”
But, amid the worst public health crisis for generations, she bade a sad farewell to Philip, her companion of 73 years, who died aged 99 in April 2021.
The Queen sat alone at his funeral during Covid restrictions.
Elizabeth II is the first British monarch in history to reach her Platinum Jubilee, and plans are in motion for a host of national festivities in June to mark the occasion.
Her reign has stretched from the post-war years through a new millennium and into a radically altered 21st century.
Her time on the throne has seen 14 prime ministers from the Second World War leader Sir Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson.
In her twilight years, she has been setting her affairs in order, using her Jubilee message to endorse her daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cornwall, once a royal mistress, to be Queen Camilla and crowned at Charles’s side when he one day becomes King.
The Queen is the latest monarch from around the world to catch Covid.
Queen Margrethe of Denmark, 82, and Spain’s King Felipe VI, 54, both tested positive for the illness on February 9.