Queen steps out for first royal engagement in seven months as she greets Salisbury Novichok heroes with Prince William

THE Queen is today stepping out for her first royal engagement in seven months as she meets with the Salisbury Novichok poisoning heroes.

The 94-year-old monarch was joined by her grandson Prince William, 38, as they headed to Wiltshire to speak with hero staff involved in identifying the deadly nerve agent in Salisbury.


Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left fighting for their lives in March 2018 with Salisbury put on lockdown as authorities desperately tried to clear up the dangerous substance used to poison them.

And today the Queen – who arrived by helicopter and wore a cheerful pink outfit – will meet hero staff who were involved in identifying the deadly nerve agent and the painstaking clear up of the attack.

It is the first engagement outside a royal palace for the Queen since the Commonwealth Ceremony at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

Her visit comes as it was announced London would go into Tier 2 restrictions on Friday midnight as part of the fight against coronavirus.






As part of the trip, the Queen will unveil a plaque to open the £35million Energetics Analysis Centre at the high-security Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

They tweeted today: "We’re delighted to have received the Royal seal of approval for Dstl’s science inside defence and security, with Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge visiting our site near Salisbury this morning."

The Queen, who wore a Stewart Parvin old rose cashmere coat and silk dress of autumnal woodland florals with a matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, appeared in good spirits as she was welcomed to the site.

She and Prince William grinned as they met explosives detection dog Max.

Her Majesty is also expected to speak to scientists who are finding ways to beat the Covid-19 pandemic by deploying microbiologists to NHS hospitals to increase testing capacities.

The Queen and Prince William, who is second-in-line to the throne, will then be given a private tour of the Energetics Enclosure where they were shown a display of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence.

William presented the Firmin Sword of Peace, presented to armed forces that improve community relations, to 102 Logistic Brigade for their work cleaning up the Novichok attack on Salisbury two years ago.

The royal engagement comes as the Queen returned to Windsor Castle earlier this month and is starting back to work at Buckingham Palace. 

What happened in the Salisbury poisonings

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 69, and daughter Yulia Skripal, 36, were poisoned in a Novichok attack in March 2018.

The deadly poison was sprayed on their door handle and they collapsed on a park bench several hours later.

Remarkably the pair survived the assassination attempt.

Cop Det Sgt Nick Bailey was also rushed to hospital after he was infected in a search of their home.

Three-and-a-half months later Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she and boyfriend Charlie Rowley, 46, unwittingly found the deadly nerve agent in a bottle of perfume.

Russian GRU agents Anatoliy Chepiga, 41, and Alexander Mishkin, 41, were later named as the suspected assassins.

Palace chiefs installed a ring of steel around the monarch since March dubbed 'HMS Bubble'.

Teams of 24 key aides have worked three weeks on and three weeks off to keep the monarch safe from Covid-19.

Although the Queen has held private engagements inside Windsor Castle during the pandemic and spent a month on holiday at Balmoral this was the first time she has been on an engagement outside a palace since March 9. 

The centre tested all 48 staff who came near the royals for Covid-19 before the visit could take place. 

The £35million Energetics Analysis Centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire, was completed in June last year.

It provides the UK with a world-class science and engineering facility to defend the nation from explosive materials.

The 7,283m2 T-shaped building is arranged over three levels, with two floors of state-of-the-art chemical laboratories, workshops, offices, meeting rooms and welfare facilities.






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