"The Queen's words still carry a significant amount of influence - she is the mother of the nation"
It is very rare for members of the Royal Family to make any statement about their health. It is regarded as a private matter and an exception to this rule is only made in the most exceptional circumstances.
The coronavirus pandemic is clearly exceptional circumstances; and this is why Buckingham Palace made an announcement in early January that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had received their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The fact that the content of a call between the Queen and leading heath professionals overseeing the vaccination programme was made public shows how seriously Her Majesty has taken this and the hope that by speaking about it, it may reassure others currently eligible for their vaccination, and who are unsure or unwilling to receive it, that the process is quick, simple and painless.
We have become accustomed in the last year to seeing pictures of the Queen sat at her desk at Windsor Castle carrying out audiences virtually instead of in person, it is not often that we learn of what has been discussed in these audiences.
We cannot know if it was the Queen’s decision to speak about the vaccination or if she was asked to do so by these professionals or by the Government, what we can be sure of is that she would have had to agree to speak about this.
It’s not the first time the Royal Family have spoken about their health in the hope that it will influence others. In the 1950s, Her Majesty agreed for it to be known that Prince Charles and Princess Anne have received their polio vaccinations at a time when the number of cases of the disease which can cause paralysis and deformity were high.
Prince Harry also received an HIV test live on Facebook only a few years ago too. It’s a cliché that a picture paints a thousand words, but in doing so he showed how quick and simple the process is and also helped break down some of the stigma around the testing.
When speaking about her COVID-19 vaccination, though, the Queen went further than this by saying she hoped that people who had not received the vaccination would think of others rather than themselves.
As well as her official role as Head of State, the Queen also has an unofficial role as mother of the nation. This is why people turn out to see her when she appears in public to show their loyalty and affection they feel for her.
She has an approval rating which politicians would love to have and this is why her words do still carry some influence and why in the last year she has made three additional broadcasts during the pandemic in addition to her annual Christmas broadcast.
The fact that her words have been featured on the front page of almost every national newspaper suggests that it is considered that her words still carry a significant amount of influence – although we will need to wait to see the vaccine uptake figures before we can judge just how much.