Queen continues with raft of royal duties from Windsor

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The Queen has continued with a busy diary of royal duties by holding a Privy Council meeting, her weekly telephone audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and video calls with two newly-appointed bishops.

The monarch, 95, who is adjusting to life without her beloved consort of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh, worked virtually from Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

Her regular audience with Mr Johnson came on the day the PM maintained his innocence over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat after the Electoral Commission launched a formal investigation.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Queen at the duke’s funeral on April 17 (Victoria Jones/PA)

The monarch, who was not pictured on the official duties, also received the oath of allegiance via videolink from the Bishop of Chester, the Right Reverend Mark Tanner, and the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Dr Gulnar Francis-Dehqani, who paid homage on their appointments.

On Tuesday, the Queen was photographed for the first time carrying out an official public engagement since Philip’s death, during virtual audiences with new ambassadors.

The nation’s longest reigning monarch, who is set to reach her platinum jubilee next year, is known for her dedication to duty, even while mourning the loss of loved ones.

The act of newly-appointed bishops paying “homage” to the Sovereign dates back to Elizabeth I’s reign.

Audience at Buckingham Palace
The Queen appears on a screen by videolink in audiences from Windsor Castle on Tuesday (Yui Mok/PA)

Later on Wednesday, the Queen also held a Privy Council by videolink, with ministers including Lord President of the Council Jacob Rees-Mogg, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Dame Sue Carr, Sir Clive Lewis, Sir Christopher Nugee, Lord Pentland and Lord Woolman were sworn in as members of the Council.

The Queen is head of the Privy Council and the body advises her as she carries out duties as head of state.

The council also provides administrative support for the leaders of the Commons and Lords and has responsibility for the affairs of 400 institutions, charities and companies incorporated by royal charter.

It has a judicial role as the court of final appeal for UK overseas territories and crown dependencies and for a number of Commonwealth countries.

The body – the oldest form of legislative assembly still functioning in the UK – dates from the time of the Norman kings when the monarch met in private – hence the description Privy – with a group of trusted counsellors who fulfilled the role the cabinet performs today.

The Queen usually holds a weekly audience with the PM, carried out on the phone during the coronavirus pandemic, and also did so last week on April 22.