The Queen has taken part in her first ever official video conference call as part of her public royal duties.
She praised carers for their “extraordinary” work as she joined her daughter the Princess Royal to speak to four carers and Gareth Howells, the chief executive of the Carers Trust, after logging in online from the Oak Room at Windsor Castle.
It was a first for the 94-year-old’s long reign and the monarch was last to join the call and first to leave – a formal etiquette of royal engagements that Buckingham Palace decided to preserve.
She spoke with Nadia Taylor, who looks after her mother who is blind and has osteoarthritis, her father who is undergoing chemotherapy for a blood disorder, her husband who has a kidney deficiency and her 16-year-old daughter who has temporomandibular disorder of her jaw joint.
The Queen heard about the isolation and difficulties carers are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mrs Taylor, 44, from London, who has been caring for more than two decades, said: “The call was about 45 minutes and the Queen was on for about 20 minutes of that. She asked us all questions.
“We talked about how we are all coping in the current climate with Covid-19.
“I explained to her how much more isolated carers are at the moment.
“Many don’t have laptops or tablets and feel very cut off. A lot of the appointments – doctors, hospitals etc – we need need have been cancelled.
“The Queen asked questions about how we all coped and called us extraordinary, which was very lovely.”
Describing the call, Mrs Taylor said before the Queen appeared there was a picture of the outside of Windsor Castle on the screen.
“She is quite formal in the way she speaks but I have to say I was personally struck about how warm she was,” she added.
Mr Howells described how the etiquette for the royal video conference was decided.
“The Princess came on the call first and Her Majesty about 10 minutes later,” he said.
“The palace wanted to follow formal etiquette in that Her Majesty would be the last to come into a room and the first to leave.”
The Queen had help from her private secretary, her top aide Sir Edward Young who has been staying at Windsor with the monarch as part of a reduced household dubbed HMS Bubble, to set up the arrangements.
Mr Howells revealed: “Prior to the princess joining, Her Majesty’s private secretary called to set up their end and tuned the audio and camera off.
“He then came back on a little while later and turned the video on and said to the Princess Royal ‘Your Royal Highness, Her Majesty the Queen is ready to join the call’. And then she because visible. ”
In a video released on the monarchy’s Twitter account, the Queen could be heard saying: “Interesting listening to all your tales and stories.
“I’m very impressed by what you have achieved already. I’m very glad to have been able to join you today.”
Also on the call was Alexandra Atkins, 24, from Swansea, who has been a carer for 16 years, and looks after for her mother Helen who has Bechets Syndrome, as well all her father Keith and her grandmother.
Miss Atkins said: “The Queen actually took it in her stride as well.
“What was really nice was that, while you could tell she had never done that kind of call for work before, she really took it in her stride.”
She added: “To have them both talking face to face to us, was just unreal.
“It hit me that I was sitting in my bedroom talking to the Princess Royal and the Queen.”
The call on June 4 was to mark Carers Week.
Anne is president of the Carers Trust, which provides support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.
There are approximately seven million unpaid carers in the UK, and with vulnerable members of society currently shielding at home, many carers have taken on new responsibilities.