Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family book jacket
Queen Elizabeth II

A Day in the Life of the Queen

A Day in the Life of the Queen

Ever wondered how The Queen spends her days? Well, the longest-reigning monarch actually carries out more than 300 official engagements a year, and even at 91 years old still has a heavy programme of work. Read on below to find out more about an average day in the life of an extraordinary Queen.

Morning correspondence

On a normal day, the Queen devotes the first part of her morning to her correspondence. She receives some 200–300 letters a day. The Queen glances through this postbag, selecting some to read. Virtually every letter receives a reply.

The Queen then goes through the official papers that are sent each day in a government red box bearing the royal cypher. They include policy papers, Cabinet documents, and letters from government ministers and Commonwealth officials.

She may hold audiences (meetings) with overseas diplomats, British ambassadors, senior members of the armed forces, bishops, judges, and leading figures from the fields of science or literature. She sees each visitor alone, and the meeting usually lasts 20 minutes.

Around 25 times a year, the Queen holds an investiture at 11am in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace at which she invests a number of people who have been named in the Birthday or New Year’s Honours List with their awards.

Public engagements

The Queen usually carries out public engagements such as visits to schools, hospitals, community centres, and places of work in the afternoon, though sometimes she spends a whole day, in which case the Duke of Edinburgh is likely to accompany her.

When she is in London, the Queen’s weekly meeting with the Prime Minister takes place on Wednesdays at 6.30 P.M. When Parliament is sitting she receives a report of the day’s proceedings written by one of the government’s whips, which she reads the same evening. Later in the evening the Queen may, on rare instances, attend a film premiere, concert, or reception on behalf of one of the many organizations of which she is patron.

The Court Circular

A list of the Queen’s engagements, and those of other members of her family, is published the next day in the Court Circular. This appears in The Times, the Daily Telegraph and The Scotsman newspapers. The Court Circular is prepared in the Queen’s press office, and she always approves it before it is sent to the newspapers.

State visits

Foreign heads of state are invited by the Queen to make a formal visit to Britain on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the aim of strengthening ties and building economic links. There are usually two such visits a year. The visit normally begins with a ceremonial welcome by the Queen or other senior royal. In the evening the Queen hosts a state banquet in honour of the visitor. During the one-to-three day visit, he or she will meet the Prime Minister, and perhaps visit a school, museum, or business that has links with their country.

Head of the armed forces

As sovereign the Queen is head of the armed forces, a duty she takes very seriously. Under the royal prerogative, only the monarch, acting on the advice of the Government, can declare war or peace. The Queen has never done so as there has been no formal declaration of war since 1939.

The Queen takes a keen interest in the armed forces of the UK and the Commonwealth. She visits army, navy, and air force establishments to meet servicemen and servicewomen of all ranks, and holds audiences with the Chief of Defence Staff and other senior military figures. She and members of her family hold appointments and honorary ranks in the armed forces, and she attends the Remembrance Day service in Whitehall in November.

There are many other duties, such as the State Opening of Parliament, that the Queen carries out as head of state. Many are full of symbolism, such as the annual service for the Order of the Garter, which takes place at Windsor Castle in June.

Every summer the Queen hosts at least three garden parties at Buckingham Palace and one at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. About 8,000 people attend each one, to enjoy tea and cakes and possibly to meet the Queen.

In these, and countless other ways, the Queen fulfils her role as the head of the nation. 

The information in the article was taken from Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Familya stunning visual guide to the Queen, from her childhood to today.

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