Queen Elizabeth in good spirits after first night in hospital in years

Queen Elizabeth returned to her desk for work on Thursday afternoon and was undertaking some light duties, a source said. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain's 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth spent a night in hospital for the first time in years for what Buckingham Palace termed "preliminary investigations" but returned to Windsor Castle on Thursday (Oct 21) where she was in good spirits.

The world's oldest and longest-reigning monarch cancelled an official trip to Northern Ireland on Wednesday. The palace said the queen had been told to rest by her medical staff, and that her ailment was not related to Covid-19.

"Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits," the palace said in a statement.

The Palace gave no details on what had prompted such medical attention.

A royal source said the queen had stayed in hospital for practical reasons and that her medical team had taken a cautious approach.

Elizabeth, who is queen of 15 other realms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, returned to her desk for work on Thursday afternoon and was undertaking some light duties, the source said.

Elizabeth, who acceded to the throne as Britain was shedding its imperial power, has symbolised stability for generations of British people, building the popularity of the monarchy despite seismic political, social and cultural changes that threatened to make it an anachronism.

A quiet and uncomplaining dedication to duty, even in old age, has earned her widespread respect in Britain and abroad, even from republicans who are eager for the monarchy to be abolished.

She returned to her desk for work on Thursday afternoon and was undertaking some light duties, the source said.

Elizabeth had spent Tuesday night hosting a drinks reception at Windsor for billionaire business leaders such as Bill Gates after Prime Minister Boris Johnson convened a green investment conference ahead of the COP26 climate summit.

Elizabeth, along with her son and heir Prince Charles, 72, and grandson Prince William, 39, greeted guests including US climate envoy John Kerry without masks.

The queen, wearing a teal skirt and jacket with pearls, was photographed beside Johnson, smiling and chatting with business leaders.

The head of state, who next year celebrates 70 years on the throne, is known for her robust health and the last time she is thought to have spent a night in hospital was in 2013 when she was suffering from symptoms of gastroenteritis.

She had a successful surgery to treat an eye cataract in 2018, and also had a knee operation in 2003. However, royal officials are loathe to discuss health issues in general, saying medical matters are private.

Earlier this year, Prince Philip, her 99-year-old husband of more than seven decades, died at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth attends a reception to mark the Global Investment Summit at Windsor Castle in Windsor on Oct 19, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

But that has not stopped her from carrying out her official engagements, although her age has meant she has handed more duties to her son and heir Prince Charles and other members of the royal family.

She was this month seen using a walking stick for support in public for the first time, apart from after her knee operation.

Not only has she lost her husband, who she described as her "strength and stay", but her second son Prince Andrew has quit royal duties over his links to US financier Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in 2019.

Her grandson Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan have also stepped away from royal duties to move to Los Angeles from where they delivered some barbed attacks on Buckingham Palace.

Elizabeth's next major engagement is at the end of the month when she is due to welcome world leaders at the opening of COP26 in Glasgow.

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