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The Countess of Wessex steps in for the Queen at Buckingham Palace

06 MARCH 2013

With the Queen recovering from a recent bout of gastroenteritis, it was up to Sophie, the Countess of Wessex to cover one of her mother-in-law's engagements.

The royal was the picture of elegance as she and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted British politicians at Buckingham Palace this week. Sophie chose a beautifully tailored blue ensemble for her night as hostess in the palace's splendid picture gallery.

 

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In 2002, the Countess announced she and husband Prince Edward, the Queen's youngest child, would focus on royal duties ahead of their business interests.

Sophie's public relations experience, combined with a decade of royal duties, served her well as she chatted to over 150 Members of Parliament.

Bill Cash, Conservative MP for Stone in Staffordshire, reflected on the Queen's absence, saying, "We are just very sad that Her Majesty was not very well and could not be here tonight.

"I think it's absolutely marvelous that these events are held and for me, it's a great honour to be here."

Mr Cash was the final politician to be introduced to Philip and he shared a joke with the him saying afterwards, "I told the Duke that unusually I'm the last in the line."

 


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The Queen continues to make a speedy recovery from the bout of gastroenteritis which saw her spend Sunday night at the King Edward VII Hospital. She was able to return to Buckingham Palace less than 24 hours later.

It was the Queen's first hospital stay in ten years, and all her official engagements, including a highly-anticipated visit to Rome with Prince Philip, were cancelled or postponed.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson insisted the sovereign is in "good spirits" and added: "Engagements cancelled or postponed this week remain so.

"Next week we'll have to see, as she has only just been released from hospital."

News of the Queen's illness came on Saturday when she was forced to cancel a visit to the Welsh city of Swansea where she was due to mark St David's Day. As a result of her illness, the Queen spent the day recuperating at Windsor Castle before aides decided it was safer for her be in hospital.

The 86-year-old was well enough on Sunday to meet an employee privately and award her a medal for long service before travelling by private car to the King Edward VII hospital. 

Sources close to the stoic monarch said the Queen wanted minimal "fuss" around her short-lived sick leave. In 60 years as Britain's sovereign, Her Majesty has rarely cancelled engagements due to ill-health and the last time she was in hospital was in 2004 for a knee operation. 

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