WINDSOR, England – Queen Elizabeth II was social distancing Saturday even as she bade farewell to the love of her life.
Wearing a mask that matched her black dress, hat and gloves, the queen did not take comfort in the physical embrace of her family at the funeral of Prince Philip because of an invisible intruder called Covid-19.
Instead, set an example of both safety and fortitude for her countrymen during the hourlong ceremony by scrupulously sticking to the social distancing rules that have rankled many of her subjects over the last year – even in the moment of her deepest grief.
And if it bothered the queen, she didn’t let it show.
“It’s more than pragmatic,” 70-year-old Chris Chilton, who lives near Windsor Castle, said of the queen’s decision to stick by the pandemic rules. “She’s an amazing woman. She really does take control. She’s very fair.”
Daria Alexander, a 24-year-old student from London sitting on a bench outside the castle walls, said she wasn’t surprised to see the queen sitting off on her own, but admitted it was “weird” to see her in a mask.
“She did look sad, but also dignified,” she said.
Also “quite sad,” Alexander said, was that the Duke of Edinburgh — like so many other people who died during the pandemic — did not get a public funeral because of Covid-19.
“They were abiding by the rules,” said Alexander. “But to be honest, it’s the worst time to lose a member of your family. It’s the worst.”
Adela Suliman is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital.
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.