Queen Elizabeth hospitalized, no word on condition

6:47 AM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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(Photo: Ian Gavan, Getty Images)

By Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY

Last month, USA TODAY wrote about the unlikely scenario that would see the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth take a cue from Pope Benedict XVI and resign her office due to health reasons.

PHOTOS: Queen Elizabeth through the years

No way, was the consensus from experts, and even from the queen herself -- based on past statements reflecting her attitudes to public service and the moral necessity to keep on keeping on. It's not starting the job that's difficult, it's seeing it through, another British female leader -- Margaret Thatcher -- is fond of remarking, a saying of her grocer father's. As far as anyone can tell, the queen wants to see it through.

The well-being of Britain's official head of state is no trifling matter, of course, but so far the doting British press haven't really had that much to go on in terms of reporting the queen's suspected case of gastroenteritis, which has forced her first hospitalization in 10 years. However, the subtext from the various non-announcements was clear, and it chimes with the queen's preferred operating mode: No reason for alarm, nothing to see here, move along now. Above all, there must be NO fuss. There certainly won't be any resigning.

On Monday, as the queen spent her second day recovering at King Edward VII's Hospital in London, the British bulldog spirit was once again in evidence. Buckingham Palace wasn't saying much. She's being assessed but is in good health. It's just a precautionary measure. She's in "good spirits." That kind of thing.

So what's a royal press to do? The Sun tabloid newspaper -- under the headline "Her Majesty the Queasy" -- focused on the queen's health record: Wisdom tooth removed in 1982, stitches in hand after a bite from her corgi in 1993, bloodshot eye in 2006, etc. The Daily Mirror noted that sometimes we just forget that she is 86, after all. The Daily Telegraph mused that even a highly devoted monarch needs to sometimes just let go and admit she's ill and get the necessary care.

Such was the dearth of available information that a great deal of column inches was given over to a discussion of two police officers who were standing guard outside King Edward VII's Hospital on Sunday evening. The two officers are known as "Big Tone" and "Little Tone," because -- you guessed it -- at 7 feet 2 inches PC Anthony Wallyn towers over his 5 feet 6 inch partner PC Tony Thich. "Big Tone," Sky News reported, gets between 100-500 requests for a photo every day.

The Guardian is holding a "caption competition" where readers can speculate on what "these two amusingly paired officers" could be saying. God save the queen. And us.


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