The Queen made her first public engagement outside a royal residence since the lockdown, but her decision not to wear a mask has been criticized.
She visited the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down near Salisbury with her grandson the Duke of Cambridge.
Neither royals wore face masks, but Buckingham Palace said medical advice had been sought and necessary precautions had been taken for the visit.
The Dstl said it had tested all 48 people who were to come into contact with the royal visitors and that all had tested negative for Covid-19. Social distance was maintained throughout the visit. Prince William and the Queen, 94, arrived separately.
Although face covering is mandatory on public transport and in public places such as shops, the government also recommends wearing a mask in indoor places where social distancing can be difficult and where the public comes into contact. with those he does not normally meet.
A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said: “Specific advice has been sought from medical staff and affected parties, and all necessary precautions have been taken, working closely with Dstl.
It was not known when the Dstl staff were tested, except that it was very recently. Kensington Palace declined to comment, but it is understood William was tested and returned negative before accompanying his grandmother.
However, Graham Smith of the Republic, a group campaigning for an elected head of state, said: “The Queen should lead by example. I don’t see how this fits the rules everyone has to follow, so the palace has to come up with a rule-compliant explanation. ”
The maskless monarch has also sparked comments on Twitter, including from TV host Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “Sorry, but this is not a smart move by the Royal Family as the virus rages on and the country heads for another lockdown. “
John Smith, the son of late rights activist and RAF veteran Harry Leslie Smith, wrote: “By not wearing a mask the Queen sends a very loud and stupid message that will make the anti-mask brigades applaud with joy. “
But others defended the decision. Joe Little, editor of Majesty magazine, said: “The Queen and The Duke of Cambridge will inevitably be criticized for not covering their faces, but medical advice was sought during the planning of the royal visit and social distancing has apparently been maintained. ”
He added: “The Queen’s first official engagement away from a royal residence for the first time in seven months provides visible and timely assurance that everyday life can continue during the pandemic in altered form, even for someone. in its 95th year.