LONDON, Mar 4 – Britain’s 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was admitted to hospital for the first time in 10 years as a precautionary measure, after struggling to shake off a bout of gastroenteritis.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the monarch’s planned visit to Rome this week — her first trip overseas since October 2011 — had been called off.
Known for her robust health and devotion to duty, Britain’s head of state rarely misses engagements.
“The Queen is being assessed at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements this week will be either postponed or cancelled,” the palace spokesman said.
He said she was in “good spirits” and was otherwise in “good health”.
“This is a precautionary measure,” the spokesman added.
“She was not taken into hospital immediately after feeling the symptoms.
“This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her.”
The Queen was reported to have been well enough earlier Sunday to present an award to a member of staff for her long service, and broadcasters reported the monarch would remain in hospital under observation for about two days.
It was also reported that she would not be taking visitors in order to minimise publicity.
Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday issued a statement saying: “We wish the Queen well and wish her a speedy recovery.”
After coming down Friday with gastroenteritis — an infection of the stomach and bowel with symptoms commonly including vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration — the sovereign missed celebrations in Swansea on Saturday to mark St. David’s Day, the national day of Wales.
Instead of that engagement, she had been resting at Windsor Castle, west of London, where she and her husband Prince Philip usually spend the weekend.
The fact that she was then taken to the royals’ regular hospital in central London suggests her condition did not warrant finding a hospital close to Windsor.
In December, her grandson Prince William’s pregnant wife Catherine spent three days at the private hospital with acute morning sickness.
A nurse at the hospital was found hanged after taking a hoax call from two Australian radio presenters posing as the queen and William’s father Prince Charles, which led to details of Catherine’s condition being made public.
Police officers were stationed outside the hospital entrance on Sunday.
Queen Elizabeth was due to visit the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster in the east London docklands on Tuesday.
A reception for British and European Union lawmakers at Buckingham Palace later this week will go ahead as planned, and will be attended by other members of the royal family.