Queen Elizabeth made her first public appearance Wednesday since an overnight hospital stay last month and a sprained back over the weekend forced her to cancel some of the royal family’s most high-profile engagements, spurring speculation over the 95-year-old monarch’s health.
Elizabeth held an audience Tuesday at Windsor Castle with defense chief General Sir Nick Carter, who is set to retire at the end of the month.
The Daily Mail ran a headline reading, “One is back!”—a play on the Queen referring to herself in third person.
Elizabeth was set to make a public appearance during Remembrance Sunday ceremonies over the weekend, one of the most high-profile engagements on the royal calendar, but pulled out the same day over the sprained back, Buckingham Palace said.
Public speculation into the health of the 95-year-old ramped up after the last-minute cancellation, which followed the Queen missing nearly a month’s worth of major public appearances since being hospitalized.
Elizabeth was crowned in 1952 and is the longest-serving head of state in the world. At age 95, she is the oldest British monarch ever and the ruler with the longest reign in the country’s history. Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in April just weeks away from his 100th birthday.
Elizabeth is considered to be in good health for her age, and before last month had only been hospitalized twice in nearly two decades. In 2013, she was admitted when she displayed symptoms of gastroenteritis and had knee surgery in 2003 to remove torn cartilage.
The audience with Carter marked the first time the Queen has been seen holding an in-person engagement since she was hospitalized in October for “preliminary investigations” on which Buckingham Palace did not elaborate. The Queen held a private meeting Friday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Windsor Castle, the first of their weekly get-togethers held in person since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Queen’s hospital stay last month coincided with an announcement that she had “reluctantly” called off a scheduled trip to Northern Ireland after doctors told her to rest. Earlier that month, the Queen was spotted using a cane during a trip to the Welsh parliament and at a service at Westminster Abbey in London. Doctors advised the queen to rest for several weeks, forcing Elizabeth to miss the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, where she was slated to host a reception for world leaders, though she continued to undertake “light, desk-based duties” like virtual audiences. On Tuesday, she did not attend the Church of England’s national assembly for the first time since she became queen 69 years ago. Her youngest son, Prince Edward, delivered a speech she wrote for the event, in which she gave a poignant reminder that “none of us can slow the passage of time.”