Queen Elizabeth has skipped the annual Royal Ascot festival, for the first time in 68 years, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s most iconic horse event takes place every year and sees all the members of the royal family making an appearance during the event.
According to USA Today, the Queen watched the event on TV from Windsor Castle. The monarch has been spending her time in isolation with her husband Prince Phillip since March this year. Britain was labeled the epicenter of the life-threatening illness at the time and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease.
However, that did not stop her from writing a message for all the organizers who worked tirelessly for making the event happen. The Queen expressed gratitude toward everyone who made the race possible amid the global health crisis.
In her message, she welcomed all the racing professionals and jockeys who joined her in commemorating this year’s event. She also noted that this year’s race will be a “tribute” to all those who did not let the festival get canceled or postponed.
“I send my best wishes to the thousands of racing professionals and enthusiasts who will join me in celebrating this year’s Royal Ascot. In these challenging times, we are once again delighted to welcome the best horses and jockeys from across the world and pay tribute to those who have helped make this race meeting possible,” the Queen wrote.
This year’s event is taking place behind closed doors. The organizers announced in April that the event would not be open for the public.
“For public health and safety reasons, we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 will not be able to take place as an event open to the public. This will, of course, be a great disappointment for everyone planning to attend,” the organization said.
Apart from the Queen, other family members like Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince Charles, Camilla, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie also attend the festival every year.
Earlier this year, the pandemic forced the Queen to cancel her birthday plans. A royal source told CNN that the Queen canceled the celebrations.
The U.K. has witnessed over 298,000 cases and 41,969 deaths because of COVID-19 until now.