Queen Elizabeth Leaves Her COVID Bubble for First Time in 7 Months

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Queen Elizabeth Prince William
BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

In her first in-person public engagement outside the safety of the royal residences since coronavirus measures were introduced seven months ago, Queen Elizabeth II formally opened a new analysis center at a highly secretive government science facility on Thursday. It was a rare joint appearance with her grandson Prince William, who's second in line to the throne.

The two royals were given a tour of the new Energetics Analysis Centre at the British military's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, about 90 miles outside of London.

They saw demonstrations of weapons and tactics used in counterintelligence, met counterterrorism staff and toured a top-secret lab where scientists carry out research into chemical and biological weapons and deadly diseases including Ebola and Anthrax.

The royals also met scientists leading the U.K.'s response to COVID-19, and the members of the team that confirmed in 2018 that former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in the nearby city of Salisbury with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. The U.K. later charged two alleged Russian agents, in absentia, with carrying out that attack.