Queen continues duties as Covid sacrifices praised amid Downing Street Christmas party row

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer highlights the head of state's leadership during the Covid-19 crisis

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The Queen has continued with her official duties as Sir Keir Starmer highlighted the sacrifices she made and leadership she showed during the pandemic.

The 95-year-old monarch held a face-to-face audience at Windsor Castle, receiving organist Thomas Trotter on Wednesday.

She smiled and chatted with the concert musician, winner of last year’s Queen’s Medal for Music, and presented him with his award in the Oak Room – the sitting room where she spends much of her time, and which also doubles as her office.

Labour leader Sir Keir highlighted the head of state’s leadership and the sacrifices she made at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral during the Covid-19 crisis at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Queen Elizabeth II presents Thomas Trotter with the Queen's Medal for Music at an audience at Windsor Castle. Picture date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.
Queen Elizabeth II presents Thomas Trotter with the Queen's Medal for Music at an audience at Windsor Castle. Picture date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.

He was speaking as Boris Johnson faced the furore over claims Downing Street staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year.

Sir Keir told the Commons: “Her Majesty the Queen sat alone when she marked the passing of the man she’d been married to for 73 years.

“Leadership, sacrifice – that’s what gives leaders the moral authority to lead.

“Does the Prime Minister think he has the moral authority to lead and to ask the British people to stick to the rules?”

The Queen usually has her weekly audience with the PM, either by person or by phone, later on Wednesdays.

She has been resting on doctors’ orders and only carrying out light duties such as audiences since spending a night in hospital for preliminary tests on October 20, and later spraining her back.

She is also preparing to film her Christmas Day message to the nation.

The Queen is likely to use her annual pre-recorded televised speech, which she writes herself, to reflect on the ongoing challenges facing the country, as well as touching on her own personal grief with the loss of Philip in April.

The royal family is set to gather to celebrate Christmas with the monarch at Sandringham after last year’s festivities were curtailed due to the pandemic.

The Queen’s Medal for Music is presented annually to a musician who has had a major influence on the musical life of the nation.