We may have seen the last of Queen Elizabeth II as a royal monarch as a new report claims she may never return to her royal duties due to a risk of getting infected with coronavirus. Her Majesty is set to withdraw from public duties in what will be the longest absence in her entire 68-year reign. According to The Sun, the Queen will remain in isolation "for several months" and may never resume public duties. The 94-year old monarch's last public appearance was at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II during the Buckingham Palace’s Annual Diplomatic reception VICTORIA JONES/PA WIRE

The British monarch will remain in isolation at Windsor Castle with the Duke of Edinburgh for an indefinite period, with palace officials confirming that they will not risk exposing her to the deadly virus and she may not be allowed to return to her royal duties due to the risk of catching COVID-19 'for years' to come.

All public engagements cancelled or postponed

The Queen has already put all her public engagements on hold and events including the Trooping of the Colour, the Order of the Garter Service, and her garden parties in the wake of the outbreak.

The Sunday Times also reported that Buckingham Palace will be closed for the summer for what is believed to be the first time in 27 years. Last month, there were no gun salutes to mark the Queen's 94th birthday for the first time since she was crowned.

The wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, due to take place on May 29 at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace followed by a private reception hosted by the Queen in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, has also been postponed indefinitely.

Appearances only on TV, video?

According to royal biographer Andrew Morton, the Queen is unlikely to return to her normal public duties at all and it is a possibility that she will only make appearances on TV or video links, as she has with her recent addresses. The Queen has made two addresses to the nation while in isolation, with 24 million viewers tuning in for her last broadcast.

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"It's terribly sad but I can't see how the Queen can resume her usual job," Morrison told the publication. "The Covid-19 virus isn't going away soon and will be with us for months, if not years. "It would be far too risky for the Queen to start meeting people on a regular basis."

"She has always loved getting out and meeting people but she can't take the risk. How can she carry out investitures, meet ambassadors, do walkabouts and visit places without meeting people at close range?"

Operation Candid

There's also the possibility that the global pandemic would trigger Operation Candid, the codename for a contingency plan drawn up by the government to evacuate the Queen in the event of an emergency such as a nuclear attack, as detailed in a 2010 declassified document.

The Brittania
The Queen's luxury yacht, The Brittania. Wikimedia Commons

The plan, prepared in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s, would see Her Majesty and Prince Philip take shelter on board a floating bunker, the royal yacht Britannia, which would hide in lochs off the coast of Scotland.

It would be irresponsible for palace officials not to consider every eventuality given the current coronavirus crisis, no matter how unlikely it may sound. When it comes to the safety of the Queen, whisking her away to a secret bunker may not be as far-fetched as it may seem.