Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, skipped royal protocol for once to announce that the couple has been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

In a short statement issued on Saturday, January 9, the palace announced: "The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have today received Covid-19 vaccinations."

The royal couple is among the first ones in the United Kingdom to receive the jab, but it is believed that they did not skip any queue for it. The British monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh were administered the vaccine in the early stages as they fall in the high-risk group for the virus at the age of 94 and 99 respectively. That puts them in the priority group for vaccinations. The first wave of injections is reserved for the over-80s and care home residents.

According to a report in Royal Central, the couple was administered the vaccine by one of their own doctors at Windsor Castle, where they have been living since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March last year.

There had been widespread speculation over whether the Queen and Prince Philip would receive the vaccine, and in case they do, if it will be made public. When approached last month by Mail Online, Buckingham Palace had clarified that they do not comment on medical details.

"Medical decisions are personal and this is not something we will comment on," a spokesperson had told the outlet.

Public health experts had noted that it would be a huge service to the public if the couple goes public about their vaccination, as it would potentially combat misinformation spread by conspiracy theorists which might make a substantial portion of the population refuse the vaccine. The Queen had previously also let it be known when her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, had been given polio jabs in 1957.

The couple will receive another jab next month as all current vaccines require a second shot three to four weeks after the initial dose.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that every adult in Britain will be offered a jab by autumn, with officials vaccinating 200,000 people daily in a race to meet a target of 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February. The UK has seen a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases recently, and has the fifth-highest coronavirus death toll, at approximately 81,400.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Photo: AFP / Fiona HANSON