The coronavirus outbreak is affecting countries across the world, with governments closing schools and limiting travel. But in the UK, it's been business as usual for the Queen and the royal family this week, and HELLO! understands that this is because palace officials are monitoring the situation and are following government advice. On Thursday, the 93-year-old monarch held an audience with Lord Prior, Professor Mark Compton, as she received the Order of St John's first ever Service medal in gold.
She also attended the annual Commonwealth Day service at the start of the week, joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate, Prince Harry and Meghan, and Prince Edward and Sophie at Westminster Abbey. Her daughter Princess Anne, and Mike and Zara Tindall and Peter and Autumn Phillips, have also been making regular public appearances at Cheltenham Festival this week, enjoying the races.
READ: How royal families have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic
The Queen during an audience at Buckingham Palace this week
However, the Queen is taking the advice of the government and her upcoming plans have been affected. She was due to visit Cheshire on Thursday 19 March, but the palace released a statement on Friday saying: "As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, changes are being made to The Queen’s diary commitments in the coming weeks. In consultation with the Medical Household and Government, Her Majesty’s forthcoming visits to Cheshire and Camden will be rescheduled. Audiences will continue as usual. Other events will be reviewed on an ongoing basis in line with the appropriate advice.
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The UK government is currently advising people to stay at home if they have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, and to not leave the house for seven days from when those symptoms began.
Prince Charles and Camilla's overseas spring tour will also no longer go ahead. The couple were due to travel to the Republic of Cyprus and Jordan on Tuesday 17 March, with the Prince also scheduled to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina. A Clarence House spokesman said: "Owing to the unfolding situation with the coronavirus pandemic, the British government has asked Their Royal Highnesses to postpone their spring tour to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Jordan."
King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain were tested for the virus
Across Europe, the royal families have been clearing their schedules in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The Danish and Norwegian courts have confirmed that events have been cancelled until at least Easter, while King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain were both given the all-clear after being tested for the virus. The decision to be tested came after the queen met with the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, last week. It has since been confirmed that the Minister has COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the Queen was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Earl and Countess of Wessex at the Commonwealth Day service. In keeping in line with the protocol of Westminster Abbey, the royals did not shake hands when meeting guests and Prince Charles has been adopting the "Namaste" greeting at his engagements instead.
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