THE Queen was today admitted to hospital, where she is being treated for a stomach infection, the first time in a decade that she was been hospitalised.
• Queen admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis
• Queen’s official engagements for this week have been postponed or cancelled
“As a precaution”, the 86-year-old was taken to King Edward VII Hospital in London, where she is being assessed for symptoms of gastroenteritis, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.
He said the Queen had been forced to cancel all her engagements for the coming week as she continued to recover from a debilitating bout of illness.
Experts believe the illness, which can cause dehydration, particularly in very elderly and young patients, has most probably been caused by the noro-virus and say the Queen is likely to be put onto a drip for the two days she is due to spend in the private hospital.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh had been due to make a two-day visit to Rome this week, at the invitation of Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.
The monarch was taken from her Windsor home in Berkshire to central London by private car yesterday, shortly after she awarded one of her members of staff with a long-service medal in one of her private apartments.
The Queen, who was last admitted to hospital in 2003 when she underwent a minor knee operation and skin lesions removed, first began suffering with the stomach bug on Friday.
One of the UK’s experts on gastroenteritis, Professor Christopher Hawkey, at the University of Nottingham, said: “The likely cause with the Queen is the norovirus, the winter vomiting virus. It’s very infectious and strikes in winter because people are indoors.
“Because it is infectious we try to not admit people to hospital, as it can start outbreaks. But not everyone can keep up with oral hydration, so it is pretty routine to go to hospital and have a drip and wait for the thing to pass.”
A palace spokesman said the Queen remained “in good health and good spirits”, while recovering in same hospital where her pregnant granddaughter-in-law, Kate Windsor, was taken in December with severe morning sickness.
He said: “This is a precautionary measure. She was not taken into hospital immediately after feeling the symptoms. This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her.”
Downing Street last night said Prime Minister David Cameron had passed on his best wishes to the Queen.
The monarch is renowned for being one of the world’s hardest working royals and rarely cancels any of the 350-plus engagements she still undertakes every year in the UK and overseas.
The last time the Queen cancelled any major engagements was in 2006, when she badly strained a muscle in her back. In the same year she also suffered a haemorrhage in an eye that plagued her for several weeks.
On Saturday, she had been due to attend a military celebration in Wales during the St David’s Day celebrations, but was forced to cancel the plans.
Last Wednesday, the Queen and Prince Philip visited the revamped Royal London Hospital in east London to officially open the National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation. There has been some speculation she may have picked up the bug there.
A reception at Buckingham Palace tomorrow for MPs and MEPs will go ahead with other members of the Royal Family, the palace confirmed last night.
Gastroenteritis causes inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines and infection can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or contaminated food.