Queen Elizabeth's Recent Health Problems Explained

Ongoing concern about the well-being of Queen Elizabeth II has been brought about following the cancellation of a public appearance in August 2022 (per The Economic Times). Her Majesty summers at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she opens the season with a public welcome by inspecting troops who offer her with a guard of honor. However, this year she chose to forego the public appearance and opt for a private arrival instead. Her choice was said to be made on the basis of continuing physical discomfort and a decrease in mobility, which continues to spark speculation about her health after several months of scaled-back appearances and noticeable frailty in her appearance. 

At 96 years old, the monarch has understandably slowed down (via CNN). She has cut back on engagements, pared down her schedule, and started using a cane for walking in public last year. This year, she's had to miss big events as part of her Platinum Jubilee, the celebration of her 70 years on the throne. While there's no reason to believe she's in poor health, it's true that she's not as present as she once was, and here's why.

She was admitted to the hospital

On October 12, 2021, the monarch was seen walking with a cane for the first time in recent history when she arrived alongside her daughter, Princess Anne, at a service and charity event held at Westminster Abbey for the Royal British Legion, reports U.S. News & World Report. Nearly two decades ago in 2003, Her Majesty was seen utilizing a walking device during her recovery from knee surgery. At the time of the surgery, Buckingham Palace released a statement revealing that the knee surgery had been for torn cartilage and that the operation had been successfully performed at King Edward VII Hospital in London (per The Royal Family).

Later in the month of October 2021, Queen Elizabeth had to cancel the first of several engagements due to health concerns (via Us Weekly). The canceled engagement was a trip to Northern Ireland. A day later, Buckingham Palace announced that the queen had been admitted to the hospital, according to The New York Times. Then 95 years old, she was discharged following several tests, which Buckingham Palace referred to as preliminary investigations, and spent one night in the hospital before returning to Windsor Castle by lunch the following day. Palace representatives said that she was in good spirits after her hospital stay.

She sprained her back

On November 14, 2021, Queen Elizabeth had to pull out of a Remembrance Sunday ceremony due to a sprained back, according to Vanity Fair. The service was to honor fallen soldiers from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Due to her commitment and desire to be at the ceremony, the monarch waited until the day before the service to make the decision not to attend, and Buckingham Palace officials conveyed her disappointment at having to miss the service.

However, the monarch was in good spirits just a few days later when she was seen smiling and chatting with the Chief of Defence staff at Windsor Castle, reports Reuters. Soon after, Queen Elizabeth attended a private christening service for two of her great-grandchildren (via Vanity Fair). The babies being christened were August Brooksbank, the son of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, and Lucas Tindall, the son of Zara and Mike Tindall. Princess Eugenie and Zara Tindall are both granddaughters of the queen.

She contracted COVID-19

In February 2022, Queen Elizabeth tested positive for COVID-19, after her son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla had also been infected with the virus (via NPR). It was announced by palace officials that the monarch was experiencing mild cold-like symptoms, but that she would continue to take on light duties in the weeks that followed. The monarch recovered and went on continuing to conduct her duties at Windsor Castle. Later, in April 2022, the queen remarked that the virus leaves one feeling tired and exhausted, reports ABC News.

When it comes to sick members of the royal family, they have access to consistent, quality healthcare, which may allow them to catch any health issues early (per National Post). The royal family is also known for getting outside for regular brisk walks and activities, something that may keep them at healthy weights and prevent them from becoming too sedentary. The queen and her family also have access to fresh, nutritious food, which is common in areas of the world with the oldest living populations.

She experienced mobility issues

Traditionally, the monarch opens each session of Parliament, but in May 2022, she passed the honor to her eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles (via NBC News). Ahead of the change, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying, "The Queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament tomorrow. At Her Majesty's request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The Prince of Wales will read The Queen's speech on Her Majesty's behalf, with The Duke of Cambridge also in attendance." According to NPR, it was the first time in six decades that the queen did not open Parliament, and in her absence, the crown that she traditionally adorns during her annual speech was given its own seat.

In an effort to save her energy for the upcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, the monarch scaled back her schedule and was advised to rest for a significant portion of the month of May (per Us Weekly). To make things easier on herself in light of her decreased mobility, the queen had also moved her working place from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle full time, reports Newsweek.

She scaled back appearances

In June 2020, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, thus marking 70 years as the monarch, per CNN. During the celebrations, she was able to stand out on the iconic Buckingham Palace balcony for the flyover of aircraft, but she had to miss a Service of Thanksgiving in her honor at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, citing the travel and activity required to participate. Officials said that she had experienced some discomfort after the previous day's activities, and watched the event on television from Windsor Castle.

If you're worried about the longevity of Queen Elizabeth in light of her recent health scares, chances are you needn't worry. The queen's mother lived to be 101, so despite some health scares and withdrawal from the public eye, Queen Elizabeth may have a few years yet (via National Post). One reason for her longevity could be the fact that she doesn't smoke. Her sister, father, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather have all passed away due to smoking-related illnesses, so the queen has reportedly never smoked a cigarette. She even forced Prince Philip, her late husband, to quit smoking after they got married. And he died just a few months shy of 100, so longevity certainly runs in the family (per The Conversation). In fact, British royals tend to live 30 whole years longer than their subjects, on average. Long live the queen!