The Queen’s cold made headlines around the world over the Christmas holidays. Elizabeth II repeatedly cancelled public appearances, including two church services. That the monarch’s church-going appearances, or lack thereof, generated breaking news alerts is because of its rarity. The Queen’s work ethic and stamina are legendary. Never mind that she’s 90. It takes more than a case of the sniffles to make her cancel one event, let alone three. Suddenly, the world was worried. (My original article from Jan. 2, 2017 in Maclean’s is here.)
On Dec. 9, Elizabeth II performing one of her regular duties, meeting ambassadors at Buckingham Palace. The formal photographs released after the meetings were the last glimpses of the monarch. (Aside from a few unrecorded duties, including taping her Christmas Day address, she wasn’t seen again for more than three weeks.)
Alarm over the Queen’s cold
Four days before Christmas, her 90-minute train ride from London to Sandringham was cancelled at the last minute, as palace officials announced that she and her husband, Prince Philip, had heavy colds. The next day, the seriousness of the Queen’s cold became apparent. The 90-year-old monarch and her 95-year-old husband took a helicopter the short distance to Sandringham. She’s spent an extended Christmas holiday there for decades.
The Queen likes her family around her during the holidays. And she’s a regular church goer. Yet she missed the Christmas Day service (Prince Philip attended.) “Her Majesty the Queen will not attend church at Sandringham this morning,” a palace spokeman said. “The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery. Her Majesty will participate in the Royal Family Christmas celebrations during the day.”
The saga of the Queen’s cold continues
Then, the next Sunday, she again skipped church. It was the third cancellation in 10 days. The palace said it was a “precautionary measure” given the cold, wet weather as she was “still recuperating” from a heavy cold, BBC reports. And there was “no sense of undue concern.”
On Jan. 8, 2017, news channels issued breaking bulletins—Elizabeth II had attended church. The Queen’s cold was officially over.