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Britain's Queen Elizabeth and husband, Prince Philip, receive coronavirus vaccine

The U.K. is in the midst of severe social restrictions as hospitals say they are overwhelmed.
Duke of Edinburgh 99th birthday
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in June 2020 at Windsor Castle, ahead of his 99th birthday.Steve Parsons / PA

LONDON — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, have received vaccines against the coronavirus, officials from Buckingham Palace said Saturday.

The royal family rarely comment on the health of the monarch or her family members but said the announcement was made to prevent inaccuracies or speculation.

"The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have today received Covid-19 vaccinations," a spokesperson from Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

The pandemic has pummeled the United Kingdom.

It has the highest death toll in Europe — just over 81,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — and is in the midst of severe social restrictions, as hospitals say they are overwhelmed.

The emergence in the U.K. of a more contagious mutant strain of Covid-19, has also led to a surge in cases.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accelerated vaccine efforts this week, with the elderly and vulnerable among the priority groups. On Tuesday, Johnson said that over 1.3 million people across the U.K. had been vaccinated.

It is not known which vaccine the Queen and her husband received.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca's inoculation made in collaboration with the U.K.'s Oxford University, received regulatory approval in December, while the U.K. made global headlines when it became the first Western country to roll-out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier that same month.

On Friday, U.K. regulators approved a third vaccine, by Moderna, but said it wouldn't be available until the spring.

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Last year, Queen Elizabeth urged her subjects to show the same "quiet good-humored resolve" that characterized previous generations, in a rare televised address meant to rally the nation's spirits.

The royal family have not been immune to the virus, with the Queen's son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, testing positive for Covid-19 in March last year but made a swift recovery.

Charles' son Prince William and his wife, Kate, have been vocally championing the National Health Service. Kate, who celebrated her 39th birthday Friday tweeted her support for those on the front line.

The lives of the royals have drawn renewed interest recently, as many locked-down viewers tuned into season four of the Netflix series "The Crown."

For the first time, the series featured Princess Diana, causing a stir as British politicians urged Netflix to make clear that the show is fiction.