The significance of the announcement that Queen Elizabeth II is under “medical supervision” at Balmoral was immediately noted. In a statement released shortly after midday on Thursday 8 September, Buckingham Palace said: “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.” Adding to the gravitas of the moment House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, told MPs: “I know I speak on behalf of the entire house when I say that we send our best wishes to Her Majesty the Queen and that she and the Royal Family are in our thoughts and prayers at this moment.” Providing some solace Her Majesty is said to “comfortable”.
Her Majesty had met with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his successor Liz Truss two days earlier. The constitutional tradition was an engagement the monarch was determined to carry out. However, Her Majesty’s frailty was noted in the images from the meeting with Liz Truss. It was the first time in the Queen’s 70-year reign that the handover of power took place at Balmoral, rather than Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony was moved to Scotland to provide certainty about the schedule, because the 96-year-old monarch has experienced mobility issues that have forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel and engagements on a day-to-day basis.
However, Her Majesty was advised to cancel a virtual engagement with the Privy Council on Wednesday and the subsequent announcement on her health have combined to raise profound concerns. The announcement was followed shortly by the news that the Royal Family were on their way to the Balmoral Estate. Her Majesty’s four children, along with the Duchess of Cornwall and Countess of Wessex, were joined by the Duke of Cambridge (the Duchess of Cambridge remained in Windsor with the couple’s three children) and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were also said to be travelling to the royal residence in the east of Scotland. Whilst thoughts and prayers flooded in from across the UK and around the world for Her Majesty’s recovery, the sense that the the United Kingdom and The Commonwealth may be approaching the end of an era – defined by a life of service which stretches from World War II to the political turmoil of the 2020s – is palpable.