The Queen, 94, is seen in the saddle for first time since retreating to Windsor Castle 10 weeks ago

The Queen, 94, is seen in the saddle for first time since retreating to Windsor Castle 10 weeks ago

Queen Elizabeth II has been pictured horse riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle – her first public appearance since the coronavirus lockdown began.   

Windsor is said to be the Queen’s favourite royal residence and she has been photographed over the weekend riding one of her ponies, a 14-year-old Fell Pony called Balmoral Fern.

The 94-year-old, who has been a passionate horse lover and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses throughout her reign, had not been pictured riding since she began isolating at Windsor Castle ten weeks ago despite reports she has been taking daily rides.

Wearing a colourful headscarf and smartly dressed in a tweed jacket, jodhpurs, white gloves and boots, this weekend the head of state ventured out to enjoy the sunny weather that has been a contrast to the sombre mood of the lockdown.  

Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park over the weekend, accompanied by head groom Terry Pendry

She will have been heartened, no doubt, to hear that horse racing returns today for the first time since March 17.

Her Majesty was accompanied by her head groom Terry Pendry, with the pair practising social distancing at all times.

The last public picture of the Queen was taken as she was driven away from Buckingham Palace to her Windsor Castle home on March 19.

One of the Queen’s corgis – she has two named Candy and Vulcan – could be seen next to her as they both looked out of the car window.

The Queen carried out official duties the day before her planned departure, but held her weekly audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the phone rather than face-to-face as usual.

Her Majesty was wearing a colourful headscarf and smartly dressed in a tweed jacket, jodhpurs, white gloves and boots, in the photos taken this weekend

The last public picture of the Queen was taken as she was driven away from Buckingham Palace to her Windsor Castle home on March 19 with one of her corgis by her side

The Queen has made two televised addresses to the nation during the lockdown – the first a speech to reassure the country that coronavirus would be overcome and those in isolation ‘will meet again’, and another on a similar theme to mark VE Day. 

In lockdown Queen Elizabeth is said to have continued to take daily horse rides, one of her lifelong pleasures. 

Reportedly slipping out of a side door at Windsor castle every morning in a headscarf, jodhpurs and riding boots to take a short drive to her beloved fell pony at Home Park.

Aware of the risk posed to her health by covid-19 Her Majesty is said to make the short drive to the stables unaccompanied – no police, no servants and no family that could expose her to the coronavirus.

In years past Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed riding in the grounds of Windsor with her daughter the Princess Royal and her head groom Terry Pendry (pictured together in April 2002)

Her favourite pastime: Queen Elizabeth II is seen riding with Terry Pendry in the grounds of Windsor Castle on her 77th birthday (pictured April 21 2003)

The Queen is pictured riding in the grounds of Windsor Castle weeks before her 88th birthday, with head groom Mr Pendry, (April 2014)

Come rain or shine: Queen Elizabeth II rides in drizzling weather, accompanied Terry Pendry in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, on the 5th anniversary of the death of The Queen Mother, Mar 30 2007

And head groom Mr Pendry ensures her ponies are ready and that he keeps two metres from his boss. 

All protective disinfectant measures are taken, particularly for the horse’s saddle and bridle.

The monarch’s ride of choice is a black pony called Carltonlima Emma, named after the stud near Leeds where she was bred, and the routine gives the queen a sense of both freedom and normality.

Many thought she would have to give up riding – confined to barracks by the pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth II during her address to the nation and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic, recorded at Windsor Castle, April 5 2020

But a devoted team of 22 staff are working to provide a protective shield around Elizabeth and Prince Philip, which Windsor Castle colleagues are calling ‘HMS Bubble’.   

The twenty two royal staff have sacrificed their home lives to stay isolated at Windsor Castle and serve Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for the duration of the lockdown.

A memo issued to staff from the master of the household Tony Johnstone-Burt, 62, a former Royal Navy Officer called the mission to protect the Queen and Prince Philip ‘HMS Bubble’.

The Queen was driven from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle here she began isolating on March 19, Prince Philip, 98, was flown down to join her from Sandringham shortly after.

In the memo Vice-admiral Johnstone-Burt explains that the staff would be doing their duty by not seeing their families for the duration of the lockdown in order to protect Her Majesty and Prince Philip.

Comparing the conditions to those he experienced while ‘at sea’ during his 40 years in the Navy he wrote: ‘There are 22 Royal Household staff inside the Bubble, and it struck me that our predicament is not dissimilar to my former life in the Royal Navy on a long overseas deployment.

‘Indeed, the challenges that we are facing whether self-isolating alone at home, or with our close household and families, have parallels with being at sea away from home for many months, and having to deal with a sense of dislocation, anxiety and uncertainty.’

The term ‘HMS bubble’ reportedly amused both the Queen and Philip, who himself served in the Navy where he was nicknamed ‘Big Bubble’.  

The Queen pictured out riding On her 66th Birthday In Windsor Great Park with her husband Prince Philip. April 21 1991

Queen Elizabeth II riding a horse around the grounds of Windsor during a period of raised security at the Castle after the Westminster terror attack in London, March 29 2017

In his uplifting message to staff, Mr Johnstone-Burt wrote: ‘I’m sure that we shall emerge as a stronger, more considerate and more resilient Royal Household team as a result and able to do our duty for the Queen.’

‘Shielders’ get taste of freedom but Jenrick warn advice may tighten again 

More than two million people who have been ‘shielding’ will be allowed to go outside from tomorrow.  

But Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the No10 briefing tonight that restrictions might need to be tightened again if ‘conditions become less favourable’. 

Mr Jenrick said the next review of shielding measures will take place in the week commencing June 15 and officials will consider the next steps of the programme ‘more generally’ beyond June 30.

‘Following that review, the NHS will also write to all individuals on the shielding patient list with information about next steps on shielding advice and the support that will be available to them.

‘If the conditions become less favourable, our advice to those being asked to shield will, unfortunately, need to be tightened.

‘The government will continue to ensure that support is available to those who need it for as long as possible, and for as long as people are advised to follow the shielding guidance.’ 

Members of the Royal staff believe to be isolating with the Queen include Her Majesty’s private secretary Sir Edward Young, and his own staff, who have all moved into the castle.

The staff are said to be split into two groups, who work away from their families on a ‘three weeks on, three weeks off’ basis.

Royal staff, including chefs, cleaners and officials, spend two weeks at home and a third week in quarantine during their time away from Windsor.

Under strict measures to protect the monarch, each employee is then tested for Covid-19 and has their temperature taken before they can begin another three-week rotation.   

The queen has continued her duties with grace from the confines of Windsor Castle during the pandemic.

On April 5 more than 23.3million people tuned in to watch the Queen deliver an inspirational’ and ‘galvanising’ coronavirus TV address to the nation. 

Her Majesty’s highly personal speech evoked Britain’s stoicism during the Second World War with viewers admitting they had a lump in their throat and tears in their eyes as she echoed Dame Vera Lynn’s words: ‘We will meet again’. 

Three out of four people tuned in on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 at 8pm, putting the speech just outside the top 10 most watched broadcasts of all time in Britain. 

Queen Elizabeth II speaks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle for her Weekly Audience on March 25, 2020 in Windsor, England

Royal commentators said her ‘deeply moving’ words inspired confidence and boosted morale in an intervention being hailed as the ‘finest moment’ in her 68-year reign.   

On May 8 the Queen paid tribute to Britain’s lockdown spirit with an electrifying speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, in which she said Second World War heroes would admire the nation’s response to the pandemic.

The monarch, who was 13 when war broke out in 1939, added: ‘It may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish. Instead we remember from our homes and our doorsteps.

Ministers tell parents that reopened classrooms are SAFE amid fears up to HALF will keep their children away 

Ministers last night reassured parents that reopening primary schools today is safe amid fears many will keep their children away.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school.

It comes as a study suggested up to half of families may shun sending their youngsters to lessons due to worries about the spread of coronavirus.

The majority of primaries are expected to open from today, despite fierce opposition from the National Education Union. At the 11th hour, the union again attempted to scupper openings, claiming they should be delayed until June 15 to protect youngsters and teachers.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson attempted to allay parental and staff concerns, insisting that Government decisions throughout the pandemic are ‘based on the best scientific and medical advice’.

He said: ‘While there might be some nervousness, I want to reassure parents and teachers that the welfare of children and staff continues to be at the heart of all of our considerations.

‘For the past three weeks the sector has been planning and putting protective measures in place.’

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, Mr Jenrick said ministers believe it is ‘possible to open schools safely’. He pointed out that 80 per cent of schools have been open throughout the pandemic, with thousands of teachers already educating children of key workers as well as vulnerable pupils.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘It may be that there are some parents out there today who have not yet made the decision to send their children back to school but will do so in the days ahead when they’ve seen other people make that step and schools manage to reopen safely.

‘I certainly hope so, because it’s extremely important that we do get children back to school.

‘All of the evidence suggests that it is children from the most deprived, the poorer households, who are losing out by not having that crucial face-to-face contact that you get in a school setting. I don’t want to see that continue for any longer.’

‘But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.

‘And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.’

She added ‘ Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.’

Her words were delivered to the very second that her father, George VI, gave his VE Day speech 75 years ago. 

The Queen’s first steps back into public view come as the UK government begins its plan to transition out of lockdown.

From Monday, groups of up to six people will be able to meet outside in England as long as they observe social distancing as part of efforts to fight coronavirus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today: ‘This is a sensitive moment. We can’t just stay in lockdown forever. We have got to transition.’

Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Mr Raab told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday: ‘We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.’ 

A series of experts have raised concern about the moved to ease the lockdown in England, which takes effect from tomorrow, with the UK still getting 8,000 new infections a day.

Up to six people from six different households will be permitted to meet up in public places or gardens, meaning exercise classes and barbecues are back on the agenda. 

Primary schools and nurseries have also been told they can start to reopen, while all non-essential shops can return from June 15. 

In Scotland and Wales the loosening is far less dramatic, with only two households allowed to meet up at a time and people told not to travel more than five miles from home. Schools north of the border will not be back until after holidays there in August.    

Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Mr Raab told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: ‘We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.’  

Families across England will finally be able to see their elderly relatives again tomorrow, as millions of vulnerable people ‘shielding’ are allowed to spend time outdoors.

As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, 2.2million vulnerable people will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. 

Those who live alone will be able to meet outside with one other person from another household, in a move that will bring joy to thousands.

Boris Johnson today hailed the ‘resilience’ of those who have been shielding since March, with many having no face-to-face contact since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister said: ‘I want to thank everyone who has followed the shielding guidance.

UK announces official daily Covid-19 death toll of 113 – the lowest since lockdown – taking the official count to 38,489 

The UK has announced 113 more Covid-19 deaths today, the lowest since lockdown began, taking the official count to 38,489.

Today the Department of Health reported the lowest figure in almost ten weeks – 74 people died on March 23, after which the crisis spiralled out of control.

However, the weekends always see a significant drop in deaths due to a lag in reporting. Last Sunday health officials declared 118 deaths, which was a 30 per cent drop from the week before.

Today has not seen such a dramatic reduction from the week before. But deaths are still declining from the peak in mid-April when the worst day saw 1,172 people die.

‘It is because of your patience and sacrifice that thousands of lives have been saved. 

‘I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last ten weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience.’

Mr Jenrick told the daily No10 briefing tonight that restrictions might need to be tightened again if ‘conditions become less favourable’. 

Mr Jenrick said the next review of shielding measures will take place in the week commencing June 15 and officials will consider the next steps ‘more generally’ beyond June 30.

‘Following that review, the NHS will also write to all individuals on the shielding patient list with information about next steps on shielding advice and the support that will be available to them.

‘If the conditions become less favourable, our advice to those being asked to shield will, unfortunately, need to be tightened.

‘The government will continue to ensure that support is available to those who need it for as long as possible, and for as long as people are advised to follow the shielding guidance.

‘Once again, can I thank all those shielding for your patience, and for your fortitude.

‘Everybody across the country appreciates the unique challenges that you face, and we want to continue to do all we can to ensure that whilst you might be at home shielding for a bit longer, you are not alone,’ he said. 

‘Be sensible!’ Health chief begs Britons not to push eased lockdown rules to the limit amid fears of infection spike – but message is ignored as people swarm to beaches and parks in 75F heat

  • Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries warned the public to be ‘sensible’ amid busy scenes in England
  • Lockdown rules do not officially ease until tomorrow but people appear to have voted with their feet already
  • Dr Harries said people should take responsibility for minimising their risk of transmitting the coronavirus 
  • Council officials warned people to stay away from Durdle Door today but crowds flocked to the site anyway 
  • As people descended on the beauty spot today, people were also spotting leaping from rocks into the sea 
  • The RNLI has demanded that the Government take steps to stop people turning up at the seaside  
  • Only 16 beach patrols out of a possible 248 have been reinstated, prompting a furious backlash 

 By James Tapsfield and Sebastian Murphy-Bates for the MailOnline 

Health chiefs today begged people to ‘be sensible’ and not take advantage of lockdown easing – after more scenes of packed beaches and parks raised fears of a second coronavirus spike,

Deputy medical officer Jenny Harries expressed alarm at the ‘vision’ of crowded beauty spots on another scorching day, suggesting people should take more personal responsibility.

At the Downing Street briefing, Dr Harries said the scientific view was that transmission was much less likely outdoors than indoors, and that was why the loosening in England was focused on those areas,

Durdle Door in Dorset is filled with visitors this afternoon, despite four people being injured and the air ambulance being called on yesterday

A man is pictured jumping from Durdle Door today despite warnings after people were injured yesterday and the council closing the beach 

But she said the scenes today gave grounds for concern about ‘behavioural’ problems with people sharing cars and picnic utensils, and being ‘very close together’.

‘It is not just about what is possible, it is about what is sensible,’ she said. 

Thousands of lockdown-weary families hit Britain’s parks and beaches to lap up the 75F (24C) heat, ignoring Professor Jonathan Van-Tam’s appeal yesterday not to ‘not to tear the pants out of’ the new rules. 

Tombstoners ignored clear warnings and plunged 200ft off the cliffs at Dorset’s famous Durdle Door beach today less than 24 hours after four divers were injured at the same point. 

Dominic Raab has warned that a second UK lockdown could be imposed if there is an ‘uptick’ in cases after Britons are allowed to meet up to six people from different households, have barbecues and go to fitness classes once more. 

But he defended the changes amid warning from Nicola Sturgeon and a slew of scientists that they might stoke up infections, saying the country cannot stay in lockdown ‘forever’.    

People continue to dive from Durdle Door on Sunday, despite warnings from the council telling visitors not to do so 

Tombstoners have also been spotted leaping into the water along Plymouth’s seafront today, despite four people injured in Dorset on Saturday

Pictured: People take to Durdle Door and dive off today despite the council warning that it is shut for safety reasons 

People are pictured descending on the beach at Durdle Door, Dorset, despite the council warning that it is closed today 

As the coronavirus chaos thundered on today: 

  • The UK has announced 113 more Covid-19 deaths today, the lowest since lockdown began, taking the official count to 38,489; 
  • Ms Sturgeon accused England of under-reporting deaths in care homes, saying that is why Scotland’s figures look worse; 
  • The PM has praised the public’s ‘resilience’ as families across England will finally be able to see their elderly relatives again tomorrow, with millions of vulnerable people ‘shielding’ are given the green light to spend time outdoors; 
  • Chief science officer Patrick Vallance insisted ministers make final decisions on policy as he defended his SAGE advisory group from rising criticism; 
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak is drawing up an emergency budget for July amid fears that the economy is descending into meltdown;  
  • Unions dismissed the idea that school summer holidays should be cancelled to allow pupils to catch up, saying teachers deserved time off after working ‘flat out’ during lockdown.  

At the Downing Street briefing, Dr Harries said the scientific view was that transmission was much less likely outdoors than indoors, and that was why the loosening in England was focused on those areas

The coastguard is out patrolling at Durdle Door today. The Dorset beach is packed with visitors, despite the air ambulance landing at the beach yesterday

People were spotted jumping into the water at Three Shires Head on the River Dane in Cheshire on Sunday afternoon

There is no room for social distancing as umbrellas line Bournemouth beach on Sunday afternoon 

Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds is packed with visitors this afternoon as families visit the banks of its river 

Tombstoners were seen leaping from rocks and the bridge that crosses the River Dane on Sunday afternoon 

Dr Harries told the briefing this evening that the restrictions were at a ‘critical’ stage. 

‘Where we are seeing that Government is easing measures the public really, really need to stick to those messages and it is not just about what it is possible to do, it’s about what it is sensible to do and what is sensible to do is have as few interactions as possible as you can with other people in all settings,’ she said. 

‘I think it’s really important that people just try to use these measures sensibly for their own benefit but don’t risk transmission to other people.’

Health chief risks fuelling Cummings row by saying obeying lockdown about ‘personal integrity’    

The deputy chief medical officer tonight insisted following lockdown rules is about ‘personal and professional integrity’ – in what looked to be a swipe at No10 chief Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings has faced calls to quit after it emerged he drove 260 miles during lockdown to obtain childcare when his wife had coronavirus symptoms.

He insisted he behaved legally and responsibly. 

Dr Harries said: ‘From my own perspective I can assure you that from a level of personal and professional integrity, I would always try and follow the rules as I know he does.

‘The important thing is they are rules for all of us, and it’s really important as we go through into this next critical phase that we do follow them to the best of our abilities, and even minimise if you like, the freedoms that are there to ensure that we can very gently come out of the pandemic.’ 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick was asked how worried he is having seen pictures this weekend where social distancing has been difficult or impossible.

He said: ‘We’re reasonably confident that the steps we’ve taken and will be taking on Monday are manageable but we have to all continue to play our part in that because the rate of infection remains somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9 and the room for manoeuvre is quite limited.

‘We’ll obviously keep this under very close scrutiny as we move into this next phase and as we approach the next decision point on June 15.’

Dr Harries was also asked whether people should be concerned that the daily number of deaths appears to have plateaued in the past five or six days, 

She said that if the numbers are ‘genuinely plateauing, yes we should be very concerned’. 

‘And that is the reason we need to be really really carefully, not only watching the numbers, but actually watching what we are doing,’ she said.

‘So we have to keep applying the social distancing measures, limit the number of interactions we have, very carefully and sensibly pick up those easements to make our lives better, but not overdo it, so limit the number of interactions.

‘Having said that, of course, we know from the data that it does rely in part on when cases are reported so we can all see the blips at the weekend, so I think we need to be watching over a longer period than a few days to get a sense and that is of course why we have the rolling average because it gives a much more proportionate picture if you like of what is happening in reality.’

In what might have been a veiled swipe at No10 chief Dominic Cummings – who faced calls to quit after it emerged he drove 260 miles during lockdown to obtain childcare when his wife had coronavirus symptoms – Dr Harries said following lockdown rules was a matter of ‘personal and professional integrity’.  

She said: ‘From my own perspective I can assure you that from a level of personal and professional integrity, I would always try and follow the rules as I know he does.

‘The important thing is they are rules for all of us, and it’s really important as we go through into this next critical phase that we do follow them to the best of our abilities, and even minimise if you like, the freedoms that are there to ensure that we can very gently come out of the pandemic.

‘And if we start to spot things on the data that is difficult, there is opportunity for scientific review and advice to the Government about what needs to be done to go forward.’

Brits have been warned to take the easing of lockdown measures slowly, but Bournemouth beach shows families and other visitors squeezing together

Three Shires Head on the River Dane is attracting visitors during the warm weather on Sunday 

Britons enjoying the good weather at Ruislip Lido in London, as the public are being reminded to practice social distancing following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions

Crowds have flocked to Bournemouth beach on England’s south coast ahead of lockdown measures being eased on Monday

Sunbathers are out in force on Brighton Beach today on the eve of a further relaxation of the novel coronavirus lockdown rules

Gulls flock above sunbathers on the beach in Brighton as Britain enjoys roasting 75F (24C) summer heat

Paddleboarders exercise social-distancing while afloat in the calm sea off Brighton – as thousands cram Britain’s beauty spots to soak up the day’s 75F (24C) heat

Ruislip Lido in London is packed today with social distancing appearing almost forgotten ahead of the more lockdown restrictions being eased by the government tomorrow 

People fill the beach at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, today despite Dorset Council announcing that the beach was closed to the public 

Brighton sunbathers soak up the 75F (24c) rays today on the eve of a further relaxation of the novel coronavirus lockdown rules.

Topless cyclists ride along the Mall in London today as the parks across the city are packed with lockdown-wearing Britons soakin gup the 75F (24C) sun

A member of the coastguard looks over a packed beach at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, despite Dorset Council announcing that the beach was closed to the public 

Police patrol the cliff top near Durdle Door, Lulworth, after Dorset Council announced that the beach was closed to the public after three people were seriously injured jumping off cliffs into the sea

Members of HM Coastguard Search and Rescue at Durdle Door, near Lulworth, despite Dorset Council announcing that the beach was closed to the public after three people were seriously injured jumping off cliffs into the sea

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