Queen carries out first in-person engagement for first time in almost five months

31 March 2021, 16:17 | Updated: 31 March 2021, 16:21

By Joe Cook

The Queen has conducted her first official event outside Windsor Castle in almost five months, as the Duke of Edinburgh continues to recover at home.

In her first public engagement since 8 November, the head of state visited the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Air Forces Memorial in Runnymede, Surrey.

A wreath was laid on her behalf and the Queen was shown panels bearing the names of Australian war dead, before meeting serving RAAF personnel.

More than 350,000 men and women have served in the RAAF since its formation in 1921, fighting in conflicts ranging from the Second World War to others in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq, with more than 11,100 losing their lives in service.

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The royal engagement was the first time the Queen has been seen outside Windsor Castle in 5 months.
The royal engagement was the first time the Queen has been seen outside Windsor Castle in 5 months. Picture: PA
A wreath was laid on behalf of the Queen during the service.
A wreath was laid on behalf of the Queen during the service. Picture: PA

Since the pandemic began the Queen has carried out a handful of official events beyond the walls of Windsor Castle - nicknamed "HMS Bubble".

She was last seen outside her Berkshire home in November when she wore a face mask in public for the first time during a poignant visit to the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of his burial.

A few weeks earlier she was joined by her grandson the Duke of Cambridge when she visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down in Wiltshire and formally opened the Energetics Analysis Centre.

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The Queen has carried out virtual royal engagements, including thanking NHS volunteers for their work during the pandemic.
The Queen has carried out virtual royal engagements, including thanking NHS volunteers for their work during the pandemic. Picture: Buckingham Palace/PA

Despite staying at Windsor Castle and the long hospital stay of her husband Prince Philip, the Queen has continued to carry out her duties as head of state throughout the pandemic.

Royal engagements have gone virtual, with a number of memorable video calls, including one where she encouraged those who were hesitant to have the vaccine to "think about other people rather than themselves".

A number of high-profile events have been staged in the grounds of Windsor Castle including a ceremony last summer where the Queen knighted veteran NHS fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore.