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What’s next for the royal family after Queen Elizabeth’s COVID-19 diagnosis?

The queen's diagnosis throws into sharp focus questions about how the royal family proceeds from here.
/ Source: TODAY

Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, prompting some people to ponder the future of the royal family.

NBC News royal commentator Daisy McAndrew says the queen, who is experiencing "mild, cold-like symptoms," according to Buckingham Palace, will continue to perform light duties in the foreseeable future, including receiving her red boxes that she usually takes from the House of Commons.

They’re “full of government documents that she has to look over, some of which she might have to give royal assent to new legislation,” McAndrew said Monday on TODAY, while adding she will also work from home, without seeing anyone in person, including a Wednesday meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The long-term questions, though, persist, especially when you consider the queen has endured a lot over the last year. Her husband, Prince Philip, died last April, Prince Harry has had a rift involving his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Andrew settled a sexual abuse lawsuit.

“You’d be worried with anybody who’s pushing 96 years old, who was dealing with that level of strain,” McAndrew said.

McAndrew said the queen will receive “the best of treatment” when it comes to medicine. The future, though, remains a bit murky.

“But there is another situation whereby if the monarch is incapacitated, that might be by being abroad, but it might be by having an operation or being unwell, then other senior members of the royal family have to step in and fulfill some of those legislative duties,” McAndrew said.

“Now the problem with that is, that is normally the four next in line to the throne — (Princes) Charles, William, Andrew and Harry. Well, Harry’s abroad, no longer a working royal. Andrew’s persona non grata, so there is a problem there.”

Charles, 73, tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time earlier this month. His wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, tested positive a few days later. The queen’s health has also been a concern in recent months.

Last October, doctors told her to rest for two weeks and participate in light activities after she spent a night in the hospital. She was also told to stop drinking her beloved Dubonnet cocktail and put an end to taking long walks in Windsor Great Park.

That same month, she was spotted walking with a cane for the first time since she had knee surgery in 2003.

“Once you get to 95, it’s not quite as easy as it used to be,” Charles told Sky News last November, before joking, “It’s bad enough at 73.”

McAndrew says the palace is doing what it can to be forthright about the queen.

“Certainly when it comes to the queen’s own health, the palace has a difficult line to tread, and I think it tripped over that line at the end of last year when it kept saying, ‘Everything’s fine. Nothing to see. The queen has just been advised to take it easy.’”

After a newspaper revealed the queen had spent a night in the hospital, McAndrew said some of the trust may have been lost, but it’s working to win it back.

“I think the palace was keen to be back on the front foot this time, to be seen to be giving us as much information as they could without disclosing too many really personal details,” she said.

“So, last week they did say that the queen was not showing symptoms. They didn’t confirm or deny that she had tested positive, but yesterday morning when she tested positive, they did say she tested positive yesterday. In other words, there were trying to reassure she hasn’t had it for a few days. She has only just tested positive.”