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Watch: Queen carries out first engagement outside palaces
The Queen has visited Porton Down to carry out her first in-person public engagement outside a royal palace since lockdown began in March.
The Queen and Prince William were given a private tour of part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) during their rare joint engagement.
The two royals arrived separately, with the Queen coming by helicopter and William by car. The palace said the Queen and William did not wear masks after consulting their medics and medics at Porton Down in Wiltshire.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “Specific advice has been sought from the medical household and relevant parties, and all necessary precautions taken, working closely with Dstl.”
However while it was confirmed that the 48 staff who came into close contact with them during the visit returned negative COVID-19 tests, Kensington Palace declined to comment on whether William had taken a test to accompany his grandmother.
Photos show the party mostly outside, with Queen two metres away from others, but they were also under a gazebo at one point.
It’s the first time the Queen has seen William since the summer, at Balmoral.
Prince William and the Queen saw displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence in a private tour of the Energetics Enclosure.
Then the grandmother, 94, and grandson, 38, moved to the Energetics Analysis Centre, where they met staff involved with the clean-up of the Salisbury Novichok poisoning in 2018.
They met scientists who are helping with the COVID-19 response, providing research support and deploying microbiologists to NHS hospitals to increase testing capacities.
As a mark of thanks to military personnel involved in the clean-up of Novichok in Salisbury, William presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to some members of the 102 Logistic Brigade.
And the Queen unveiled a plaque as she formally opened the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the Wiltshire site.
She stayed true to her motto of needing to be seen to be believed in a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat and silk dress of autumnal woodland florals topped of with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
The Queen signed a guest book at Porton Down, joking: “It proves that we’ve been here, doesn’t it?”
And after she unveiled the plaque, she asked what they would be doing with it.
It’s the first joint engagement the Queen and the second in line to the throne have carried out since 2017, when they visited the site of the Grenfell Tower fire. However they have carried out meetings together at Buckingham Palace since then.
The Queen stopped public engagements in March, and travelled to Windsor Castle where she and Prince Philip were kept in isolation.
While she was not able to meet people face-to-face, she got to grips with modern technology and carried out video engagements.
The 94-year-old held a special investiture ceremony in the grounds of Windsor for Colonel Sir Tom Moore, knighting him after his efforts raising money for NHS charities together.
The private ceremony came just hours after she watched her granddaughter Princess Beatrice marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor.
She was also able to mark her official birthday with a scaled down Trooping the Colour in the Quadrant in Windsor Castle.
She also received her red government box daily, which keeps her in the loop of political matters.
Prince William and his wife Kate have taken on many public engagements since lockdown restrictions have started to ease across the UK, with William going to Northern Ireland, and both of them going to South Wales, as well as engagements across London.
The couple were already thought to be stepping up their work in light of the decision by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to leave their senior royal roles. However with the age of Charles and Camilla, both in their 70s, and the Queen, they have been the most senior royals less susceptible to COVID-19.
While Thursday’s engagement was probably hoped to mark the start of more engagements for the Queen, who moved back to Windsor Castle after her summer break in Balmoral and Sandringham, it has come amid a resurgence of the coronavirus in the UK.
London is due to move into Tier 2 restrictions on Saturday morning, which is likely to prevent the Queen travelling to Buckingham Palace on occasion for work. It could also affect how many engagements the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can carry out.
Watch: Defining moments of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign