The Queen has embraced the digital age this year more than any other during her reign, and On Friday Her Majesty went one step further when she carried out her very first virtual audience.
The monarch, who is isolating at Windsor Castle, met with three international ambassadors via video calls conducted with the help of her staff. The Queen connected with the ambassadors from Georgia, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and Hungary, in what was a busy morning for the 94-year-old royal. It is tradition that new incoming ambassadors are granted a one-on-one twenty-minute audience with the Queen. Usually these take place in the state rooms at Buckingham Palace but today, for the first time, the Queen granted audiences in Windsor Castle.
Keeping to tradition, the diplomats were invited to present their Letters of Credence, also known as their credentials. This document is an official letter written from the diplomat’s Head of State to the Queen, requesting that the monarch gives credence to the new appointment.
Usually the Queen holds regular audiences at Buckingham Palace as head of state, and the meetings are an important part of her daily working life. However, she has been unable to take one to one meetings because of the pandemic, and has not held an audience in person since the lockdown started in the spring.
Exceptions have been made for some socially distanced investitures at the castle but the palace has decided that for the time being video conference calls are the way forward for the Queen to “meet” with world leaders and dignitaries. The one to ones are set to continue into the new year when the Queen is expected to stay at Windsor.
It is not known whether the monarch will return to Buckingham Palace, her principal residence which is undergoing an extensive renovation, in the new year although aides have suggested that she is likely to commute between London and Windsor.
According to Buckingham Palace, “Her Excellency Ms. Sophie Katsarava was received in audience by The Queen via video link today and presented the Letters of Recall of her predecessor and her own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from Georgia to the Court of St. James’s. His Excellency Mr. Gil da Costa was received in audience by Her Majesty via video link and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the Court of St. James’s. His Excellency Dr. Ferenc Kumin was received in audience by The Queen via video link and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador from Hungary to the Court of St. James’s. Mrs. Kumin was also received by Her Majesty via video link.”
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