Onlookers were surprised this week when the Queen appeared with a sizable bruise on her neck during an official engagement at Buckingham Palace. The mark - which was evident as she greeted the king of Tonga - started under her hairline and spread behind the left ear and across her neck.
Officials insisted the 81-year-old royal was fine, and drew attention to the fact she had carried out a full day of duties, including a three-hour stint presenting Christmas gifts to 700 royal household staff. "She looked fit as a fiddle," said one worker, who was witness to the scene.
Her spokespeople added: "She's got a slight bruise. She's just knocked it. It's nothing to worry about."
Indeed the British monarch seemed to be on her usual sprightly form as she met George Tupov V, the head of the southern Pacific Island isle.
His kingdom, which was a British protected state until 1970, was first brought to international attention by King George's grandmother, Queen Salote. She endeared herself to the British public when she cheerfully waved and smiled at wellwishers while riding in an open carriage through the pouring rain to the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth.