Queen Elizabeth II celebrates birthday in private for first time due to coronavirus

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Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her birthday in private for the first time since becoming monarch 68 years ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen will ring in her 94th year at Windsor Castle, where she is isolating with Prince Philip.

Typically, the occasion is marked by special gun salutes at royal parks in London and elsewhere in the U.K.

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However, the Queen cancelled the celebration because she felt it would be inappropriate as the COVID-19 crisis rages on, a source told CNN.

The official celebration of the Queen’s birthday in June — an event known as Trooping the Colour — has also been cancelled. There are no current plans for any alternative celebrations at this time.

It’s believed the Queen will be contacted by her children and grandchildren via phone and video call, although any conversations will remain private, according to CNN.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Prince William and Kate Middleton said the Royal Family is using technology to stay connected during this time — but it’s not without technical difficulties.

“It gets a bit hectic, I’m not going to lie — with a two-year-old you have to take the phone away,” Middleton said.

“It’s quite hectic for them all to say the right thing at the right time without pressing the wrong buttons… but it’s great and it’s nice to keep in touch with everybody.”

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Prince William and Middleton were among the first royals to wish the Queen a happy birthday via social media on Tuesday.

The pair posted a sweet photo with the matriarch to their Instagram account.

The official Instagram account for the Royal Family also marked the occasion by sharing rare footage of the Queen as a young girl playing with her sister, Princess Margaret.

“Wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Happy birthday, Your Majesty!” reads the caption.

Queen Elizabeth addressed the U.K. in a rare televised speech earlier this month, telling British people that they would overcome the coronavirus outbreak if they stayed resolute in the face of lockdown and self-isolation.

“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” the monarch said.

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“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.”

On March 17, Buckingham Palace announced in a statement a number of changes to the Queen‘s personal schedule during the COVID-19 outbreak, including many cancellations of events she typically attends.

“As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, a number of changes are being made to The Queen’s diary,” the official statement reads.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from Reuters & Global News’ Meaghan Wray

Meghan.Collie@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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