Queen steps out in first post-lockdown event
The Queen has made her first public appearance since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic began in March.
The 94-year-old monarch raised eyebrows as she stepped out maskless alongside her grandson Prince William in her first royal engagement in seven months.
The two senior royals visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory near Salisbury in England to meet with scientists who worked in the aftermath of the 2018 Novichok poisoning attacks, and are supporting Britain's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While meeting with scientists at the facility, the Queen responded to surging coronavirus levels, saying they were "expected", before adding the pandemic was "horrible".
The two royals maintained strict social distancing, arriving separately by helicopter, but Buckingham Palace did confirm that their decision not to wear a mask was by choice rather than any related health issue.
Necessary precautions were also taken as all people in attendance were tested for coronavirus prior to meeting the Queen.
The move has seen by some commentators as a positive and uplifting message as large parts of the UK face being thrown into another lockdown.
However, other observers including royal author Omid Scobie and broadcaster Piers Morgan have criticised the monarch's decision not to wear a mask, saying it was a 'worry' and 'not a smart move' respectively. Meanwhile the pressure group Republic said the Queen should have set an example by wearing a face mask.
It is the first time the Queen has left one of her homes in seven months to carry out her royal duties. Her various royal residences have a household of reduced staff, and have been coined "HMS Bubble".
Originally published as Queen steps out in first post-lockdown event