Queen Elizabeth convalescing, drops engagement

LONDON Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:34pm GMT

Queen Elizabeth reads out her Commonwealth Day message at Buckingham Palace in central London in this photograph taken in February and officially released on March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lewis Whyld/Pool

Queen Elizabeth reads out her Commonwealth Day message at Buckingham Palace in central London in this photograph taken in February and officially released on March 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lewis Whyld/Pool

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LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth cancelled an official engagement on Monday due to illness following her recent hospitalisation with symptoms of gastroenteritis but there is no serious concern about her health, officials said.

"The queen will regrettably no longer attend the Commonwealth observance at Westminster Abbey today as she continues to recover following her recent illness," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

The queen, who was discharged from hospital a week ago, is otherwise in good health and was still expected to attend a reception in the evening, the spokesman said. She will also attend some of her official engagements planned later this week.

Last Monday, the 86-year-old British monarch left hospital after three days of treatment for a stomach bug, having been forced to cancel a planned visit to Italy.

It was the first time in 10 years that Elizabeth, who rarely cancels official engagements, had been hospitalised. Despite cutting back on a once hectic timetable of foreign visits, she is still renowned for her stamina in dealing with a busy schedule at home.

However, officials were quoted in British media as saying her current health problems were not serious and there was nothing to worry about.

The queen's popularity with ordinary Britons remains high, boosted in the last two years by celebrations to mark her 60th year on the throne and the wedding of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton.

The couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting a child in July which is likely to generate another bout of royal fervour across the country.

The queen's 91-year-old husband Prince Philip, who has required hospital treatment himself three times since Christmas 2011, will attend the Commonwealth Day service in place of his wife of 65 years.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Michael Holden; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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