Queen holds private audience at Windsor Castle

Duty calls! Her Majesty presents Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry to Grace Nichols during a private audience at Windsor Castle – after missing Commonwealth Day service

  • Queen back at work again today after pulling out of Commonwealth Day service
  • Monarch was snapped holding a private audience with Grace Nichols at Windsor
  • Royal beamed as she presented Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry to the artist  
  • Buckingham Palace announced four days ago that she had pulled out or day 

The Queen has met the Guyanese poet Grace Nichols as she carried out another face-to-face engagement – after missing Monday’s Commonwealth Day service.

The monarch, 95, welcomed Nichols to the Oak Room at Windsor Castle home to present her with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry on Wednesday. 

Her Majesty opted for a cream dress for the occasion, which she paired with her favourite set of pearl earrings and a matching necklace.  

The meeting is only the monarch’s third engagement since recovering from Covid-19, with the Queen standing without her walking stick for the in-person audience.

The Queen, 95, has met the Guyanese poet Grace Nichols at Windsor Castle as she carried out another face-to-face engagement – after missing Monday’s Commonwealth Day service

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry was established by the Queen’s grandfather King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield 

They were joined by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who chaired the Poetry Medal Committee, which unanimously recommended the writer as the winner of the prestigious award. 

Nichols is being recognised for her body of work, in particular her first collection of poetry I Is A Long-Memoried Woman (1983), prose and several books for younger readers.

She previously described the honour as ‘both wonderful and humbling’.

On being announced as recipient of the 2021 award in December, she added: ‘In my own work I’ve celebrated my Guyanese/Caribbean/South American heritage in relation to the English traditions we inherited as a former British colony. 

Nichols is being recognised for her body of work, in particular her first collection of poetry I Is A Long-Memoried Woman (1983), prose and several books for younger readers

‘To poetry and the English language that I love, I’ve brought the registers of my own Caribbean tongue. 

‘I wish my parents who use to chide me for straining my eyes, as a small girl reading by torchlight in bed, were around to share in this journey that poetry has blessed me with.’

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry was established by the Queen’s grandfather King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield.

Previous recipients include Philip Larkin, Siegfried Sassoon, WH Auden, and Nichols’ husband John Agard.

It is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth country.  

The Queen, dressed in an elegant cream dress for the occasion, beamed as she shook hands with the poet in the Oak Room 

She has kept busy at her Berkshire base after missing the Commonwealth Day service on Monday due to issues over her comfort rather than a specific illness.

On Tuesday, she had afternoon tea with Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon and her husband, the journalist Whit Fraser, and also held two virtual audiences with ambassadors.

The 95-year-old head of state, who reached her Platinum Jubilee last month, has faced a bout of Covid in recent weeks, and also spent more than three months from October under doctors’ orders to only conduct light duties.

In her message on Commonwealth Day, the monarch said it had made her happy, during her Platinum Jubilee year, to reaffirm the pledge she made in 1947 as a 21-year-old to devote her life in service.

The Queen was back at work yesterday as she hosted the new Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon and her husband Mr Whit Fraser for tea in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle after missing Monday’s Commonwealth Day service

The monarch also hosted a virtual audience on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence yesterday

She had been set to be joined at the Commonwealth Service on Monday by some 1,500 guests celebrating Britain and the international grouping based around its former colonies.

She is the queen and head of state in Britain and 14 other Commonwealth nations or realms around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada – a group which comprises about a quarter of the world’s population.

It is understood that the Queen, who contracted Covid last month, is determined to attend Philip’s memorial and may even be ‘pacing herself’ in public so that she can.

Prince William, Camilla, Prince Charles and Kate speak upon their arrival at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in front of Charles, Camilla, William and Kate at Westminster Abbey

Officials met at Windsor to discuss the situation with her and it was felt that ‘discretion was the better part of valour’.

It was decided it would be ‘impolite’ and ‘disruptive’ to make a decision on Monday morning, hours before it was due to go ahead, so they decided to make a decision ‘there and then’.

She is still expected to attend a service of thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years who died aged 99 last April, at London’s Westminster Abbey at the end of March.

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