The Queen continued with her official duties on Wednesday as a row continued over reports Downing Street staff held a party during lockdown last Christmas.
The 95-year-old monarch held a face-to-face audience at Windsor Castle for organist Thomas Trotter, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed her “moral authority” and leadership during the pandemic at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She smiled and chatted with the concert musician, winner of last year’s Queen’s Medal for Music, and presented him with his award in the Oak Room – the sitting room where she spends much of her time which also doubles as her office.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sir Keir highlighted the sacrifices she made at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April during a tense standoff with Boris Johnson at PMQs.
Sir Keir told the Commons: “Her Majesty the Queen sat alone when she marked the passing of the man she’d been married to for 73 years.
“Leadership, sacrifice – that’s what gives leaders the moral authority to lead. Does the Prime Minister think he has the moral authority to lead and to ask the British people to stick to the rules?”
The Queen usually has her weekly audience with the PM, either by person or by phone, later on Wednesdays.
She has been resting on doctors’ orders and only carrying out light duties, such as audiences, since spending a night in hospital for preliminary tests on October 20.
She later sprained her back.
The monarch is also preparing to film her Christmas Day message to the nation.
The Queen is likely to use her annual pre-recorded televised speech, which she writes herself, to reflect on the ongoing challenges facing the country as well as touching on her own personal grief with the loss of Philip in April.
The royal family is set to gather to celebrate Christmas with the monarch at Sandringham after last year’s festivities were curtailed due to the pandemic.
The Queen’s Medal for Music is presented annually to a musician who has had a major influence on the musical life of the nation.