The Queen wore gloves at an investiture at Buckingham Palace yesterday, the first time she has done so since she began carrying out the ceremonies in 1952, amid warnings about the spread of coronavirus and the deadly danger it poses to the over-80s.
The 93-year-old’s decision to cover her hands to above the wrists came as the Government warned that the death rate for people infected is ‘significantly ramped up’ among the elderly. Britain was also warned that a major outbreak is ‘highly likely’.
Her Majesty wears gloves when she meets the public at events or garden parties – but not at investitures where she carries out the fiddly task of fastening the awards to a hook on the recipients’ lapels.
She wore them at Buckingham Palace for the first time in her reign as Boris Johnson unveiled the ‘battle plan’ to tackle a major outbreak on British soil, which could see troops deployed on streets and police told to ignore low-level crime.
The last time she wore gloves for an investiture at all was in 1954, when she recognised Air Marshal Claude Pelly with a knighthood in Yemen.
Infected patients not suffering from complications could be sent home from hospital under the drastic measures, and non-urgent NHS operations could be cancelled to free up space in overwhelmed hospitals.
The Prime Minister’s plan was announced just moments before Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed twelve new coronavirus cases in the UK, with 51 patients now known to have caught the deadly infection in the UK.
The new cases were scattered across London, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Humberside and Kent. Eight caught the virus in Italy – the others in Germany, Singapore, Japan and Iran.
In other developments, the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates in an emergency move designed to shield the world’s largest economy from the impact of the coronavirus as shares have plummeted over pandemic fears.
Ukraine and Gibraltar have been the only two countries to declare their first cases today, after nine countries declared yesterday. The virus is now present in at least 77 countries and territories outside of China.
The Queen’s oversized white gloves, which stretched past her wrist, appeared much longer than the ones she usually wears when out and about meeting the public on official engagements.
However, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge didn’t wear gloves as they started their three-day trip to Ireland this afternoon and Prince Charles was also gloveless at a Royal College of Music event.
Today the Queen smiled as she gave Butterflies star Wendy Craig, 85, her CBE in a ceremony where Norfolk novelist Rose Tremain was also made a dame for her services to writing.
D-Day veteran Horace ‘Harry’ Billinge was given an MBE, which he dedicated to his fallen comrades who ‘inspired’ him.
The former Royal Engineer, who was just 18 when he stormed the beaches in German-occupied Normandy on June 6 1944, said it was ‘wonderful’ to meet the Queen.
He revealed afterwards: ‘She [the Queen] said ‘I hear you was on D-Day’, and I said ‘I was’,’ he said’, ‘She was very, very kind. There are no words to describe it’.
A royal source said the Queen would be following any advice from the Government.
The Queen is a fan of black or white gloves, but the end of the accessory is usually tucked into the sleeve of her coat or jacket.
Each investiture, held in the palace ballroom, is attended by more than 60 people, receiving a range of accolades, from MBEs to knighthoods and damehoods, plus their guests. The Queen greets each recipient in turn on the low red dais and shakes their hand.
In other key developments today:
The Queen surprised many by wearing gloves at an investiture at Buckingham Palace today, the first time since she began carrying out the ceremonies in 1952. The 93-year-old chooses not to because she carries out the fiddly task of fastening the awards to a hook on the recipients’ lapels.
Cornelia James is the official glovemaker for the Queen, having won the privilege thanks to its use of materials made in Britain. The Queen has been wearing gloves by the brand since her wedding in 1947, when dress designer Norman Hartnell ordered a pair of plain white cotton gloves for her going-away outfit.
Her Majesty wears cotton gloves during the day, and nylon gloves for evening events, keeping several identical pairs in case they get dirty from handshaking.