The Queen has "reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest", according to a statement released by Buckingham Palace. It is believed that the Queen isn't unwell, rather that she simply needs to take it easy for "a few days", but at 95 years old, is her hectic schedule too much?
SEE: The Queen cancels Northern Ireland trip after 'reluctantly accepting' medical advice
The news of her order to rest comes just six months after her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh passed away, after which Her Majesty quickly returned to official engagements. Within weeks she had made a public appearance for the State Opening of Parliament, and she has been busy ever since.
WATCH: The Queen cancels trip after 'reluctantly accepting' medical advice
In the past two weeks, she has attended a service at Westminster Abbey, opened the Welsh Senedd session in Cardiff, been to Ascot, and hosted a major global investment summit evening reception at Windsor, while last week, she was seen using a walking stick for what is believed to be the first time at a service marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion.
It doesn’t stop there. In the next few weeks and months, the Queen is set to travel to Glasgow for the high-profile Cop26 climate change conference, attend Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph and then record her Christmas Day broadcast to the nation, among other events.
READ: The Queen turns down award about her age: 'You're only as old as you feel'
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The Queen was seen using a walking stick for the first time this month
She's had plenty of emotional stressors to manage, too. There was, most notably, her husband's death, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, and the births of Princess Eugenie's son August, Zara Tindall's son Lucas, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's daughter Lillibet, and Princess Beatrice's daughter Sienna. Add to all that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and it's a wonder the Queen hasn't felt the need to take a break before now.
So, what do the experts think? Is the Queen overdoing it? We caught up with NHS GP Dr Isabella Kent to find out more.
First things first, Isabella affirms that "age shouldn't be the sole factor determining someone's schedule and activities". "Instead, we should think about how frail an older person is (i.e. the amount of resilience and physical/mental reserve that they have to withstand external stressors)," Isabella says. "A person may be older in age, but not frail and therefore perfectly capable of doing activities that their younger selves were capable of."
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The Queen has continued to host official engagements, including this reception at Windsor Castle
She adds that if "an individual is generally fit and well, there's no reason why they shouldn't continue with regular physical activity", so if the Queen feels in good form, there shouldn't be any reason she shouldn't continue with her official engagements.
There is, however, reason for the Queen to keep a closer eye on her health than people of a younger age. "Preventing the onset of long-term illnesses is very important," Isabella explains. "Older adults in this age group are particularly susceptible to conditions such as heart and bone disease. Despite being busy, the Queen should keep a regular eye on things like her blood pressure, as if this is high it could lead to heart problems."
Isabella adds that "social interaction is especially important" for the Queen, since "we know that in this age group, this can protect against memory problems". Her Majesty is almost always surrounded by family, friends, and staff, so it's likely this has worked in her health's favour. Isabella agrees: "The Queen has a lot of support around her both in terms of family and assistants. Sadly, many older people live in complete isolation, away from family members or friends and with little or no extra support at home. This can have a huge impact on their physical and mental health."
The Queen recently "politely but firmly" turned down a trophy from The Oldie of the Year Awards
All that said, the Queen has lost her husband Prince Philip, and it's possible that this gap in her usual social interaction could have contributed to a decline in health that means she has taken to using a walking stick and resting.
Isabella adds: "The loss of a spouse can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. We know that in this age group loneliness and social isolation can actually accelerate the onset of memory problems and worsen cognitive decline."
The upshot? Judging by Dr Isabella's input, it makes sense that the Queen's team of support – both personally and through work – have helped keep her in good health, while the tragic loss of Prince Philip could have played a part in her need to use a walking stick and rest.
"There is no doubt that the Queen has had a lot to cope with over the past year and has done incredibly well at managing to maintain her presence at royal engagements, as well as composure in the public eye," Isabella concludes. "This is a difficult task for someone at any age!"
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