Queen, 95, admits frightening Covid battle left her very tired and exhausted

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The Queen has revealed that her own private battle with Covid in February this year left her "very tired and exhausted" as she hit out at the "horrible pandemic".

The monarch, who turns 96 later this month, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year and, despite having what Buckingham Palace said were “mild cold-like symptoms”, continued with as many remote public duties as she could.

At the time of diagnosis, royal insiders were supposedly "terrified" and even "holding their breath". She has since beaten the virus.

And for the first time, on a virtual visit to the Royal London Hospital on Wednesday (April 6), Her Majesty shed some more light on what her experience had been like – even agreeing with another patient that having Covid was "very frightening".

The remote Royal visit was held to mark the official opening of the hospital's Queen Elizabeth Unit.

During a video call with workers and medical staff, the Queen listened to their stories of coping with the huge influx of Covid patients, and was told by one senior nurse “we held their hands, we wiped their tears and we provided comfort”.

Around 800 people from across north-east London were treated at the 155-bed Queen Elizabeth Unit, built in five weeks to meet the demand instead of the normal time period of five months, and the Queen hailed the "Dunkirk spirit" on show during that time.

Speaking to former Covid patient Asef Hussain, and his wife Shamina, the Queen said about the virus: “I’m glad that you’re getting better…It does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it? This horrible pandemic. It’s not a nice result.”

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The issue of families and friends being unable to visit loved ones being treated in hospital at the height of the pandemic was discussed a number of times during the Queen’s video call, and at one point the monarch agreed: “Of course not being able to see your relative was very hard.”

Polly Fitch, a clinical psychologist who ran a family support team at the hospital, told the Queen how information was put beside patients beds so medical staff knew their backgrounds and Imam Faruq Siddiqi, a chaplain who is part of the hospital’s multi-faith team, said his presence was viewed with a sense of “hope” by families.

The head of state, who is also the hospital’s patron, said to the Imam: “It was obviously a very frightening experience to have Covid very badly, wasn’t it?”

At the end of the call, the the Queen chatted to the construction team who created the unit on the hospital’s 14th and 15th floors in quick time, and told them: “It is very interesting, isn’t it, when there is some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together – marvellous isn’t it?”

When the team hailed the “Dunkirk spirit” that inspired them, the monarch replied: “Thank goodness it still exists.”

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  • Coronavirus
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