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Doctors Concerned for Queen's Health. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 08, 2022 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

The breaking news from the United Kingdom this morning, doctors say they are concerned for the health of Queen Elizabeth. A statement just released by Buckingham Palace reads, following further evaluation this morning, the queen's doctors are concerned for her majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We've learned that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have traveled to be with the queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Let's get now to Max Foster in London with the very latest.

You've been bringing us all of the reaction, Max. What can you tell us?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think what we're really doing is looking at the optics here. So, the palace deciding to declare that they were concerned, or the doctors were concerned about the queen's health. Also, the fact that the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge are both heading immediately to Scotland, dropping all their plans. Crucially for Prince William, these are the first days at school for his children, and that was his absolute priority, I know that having spoken to his team recently. But he's dropped those plans and is heading to Balmoral.

We've also heard that the archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior member of the queen's church, the Church of England, is in prayers. And also the prime minister putting out a brief statement really sharing her concern with the nation for the queen's health.

This was the last image we have of the queen. It was a couple of days ago, receiving the new prime minister, Liz Truss, and really appointing her to the prime ministership. She does look frail. She does look old. But she is 96 years old. She has a cane and she has a blue hand. But we weren't overly concerned. She's 96 years old and she's standing up.

But the day after this there was meant to be another follow-up meeting via Zoom to appoint Liz Truss to the privy council. That didn't go ahead because the queen wasn't able to carry it out because she overexerted herself this small meeting. So that meeting was canceled.

So, as we heard, the queen was even canceling virtual meetings. We did start getting a bit concerned. And then rumors started this morning initially in the political quarter of London, in Westminster, that the queen had had a fall. We were told that wasn't true. But then we heard the news that the doctors are tending to her at balmoral. No suggestion that she's going to a hospital here. But she's receiving treatment at Balmoral.

We've never been told what the medical condition is that made her, you know -- they only called it a mobility issue effectively. She found it difficult to get around. She couldn't get to engagements. But we were never told what the underlying issue was there.

BERMAN: Max Foster, stand by, if you will.

I want to bring in Emily Nash, royal correspondent for "Hello! Magazine."

Emily, 96 years old, 70 years on the throne, 15 prime ministers, Liz Truss the most recent that she's met with just this week. There does seem to be a choreography, a deliberate nature to what we've seen over the last not even 45 minutes. Reflect, if you will, on your feelings as you watch this unfold.

EMILY NASH, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT, "HELLO! MAGAZINE": I mean, it's an incredibly settling moment for everyone in this country. I happen to be watching what was going on in the House of Commons. And seeing people's faces as notes were handed to both the leader of the conservative party, Liz Truss, and to the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, there was this sense of dread, you know, immediately. This is something that people obviously know has to come at some time, but no one wants to see her suffering, no one wants to see her unwell. And, of course, this is a time of great instability in the U.K. So, it could not really come at a worse time.

BERMAN: To be clear, we don't have details about her current condition. We do know she has mobility issues and there have been some concerns. So, we don't know exactly what's going on, Emily. But what we do know is that we haven't read language like this before from her doctors where they say they're concerned and they put the queen under medical supervision. We haven't seen the Prince of Wales and Prince William travel like this in an instant to Balmoral Castle. So that's why this looks different. And I think you're seeing the reaction you are from the House of Commons, from the conservative labour parties, correct?

NASH: Absolutely. The fact that family members are traveling to be at her side, just heard the Duke of York is also making his way up to Balmoral. This is very unusual for the royal family. They really have, you know, kept this never complain, never explain mantra for many years, rarely visit each other when anyone's in hospital, for example. So, that in itself is a sign that this is being taken very seriously by members of the queen's family. And we have, as Max said earlier, the archbishop of Canterbury, you know, making a prayer on social media for the queen's health. [08:35:07]

It doesn't come much more serious than that.

KEILAR: And, Emily, the palace is not tamping down the concern. The level of concern coming from the press, for instance. I mean they are -- they are allowing this to be what it is.

NASH: Absolutely. You know, they -- they're not ever going to try and hide something as serious as what this may turn out to be. That being said, you know, they have advised or warned against speculation. I've been told that reports that the queen may have suffered a fall are wide (ph) at the mark (ph), there's clearly something going on and they will tell us more as and when they have more information.

BERMAN: Emily, stand by. I want to bring in Sally Bedell Smith, CNN contributor and author of "Elizabeth: The Queen."

Sally, if you can hear me, just reflect, again, on what we've seen over the last few minutes.

SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is an extraordinary - it's sort of reminiscent of what went on when George V was dying and was very, very ill in January of 1936. Everybody converged on Sandringham. And I think this very fact that all the children are being summoned to Balmoral is very grave news. It's what we've all been dreading. You know, the queen typically, I think, two days ago, was seen upright with her cane, doing her duty, seeing her outgoing prime minister, seeing her incoming prime minister.

And I thought it was very significant yesterday when she was supposed to do a, you know, a Zoom meeting with her privy council and she was unable to do that. And as has been noted, we don't really know if there is an underlying condition. We know that she has, for actually in an increasing way for the last few years, suffered from mobility issues that shortened the length of time she would need to get to engagements, and we could see certainly during the time the platinum jubilee that her appearances were very measured, were very choreographed, were very limited. But she was able to do it. And the last time we had seen her since really was at the end of July when she went to Balmoral. And we haven't seen her since.

Now, there are reports that people have been coming and going, that she has had guests. So, this event or these events over the last day indicate something more ominous, I would say.

KEILAR: Sally, this concern for her health as she remains under medical supervision, which, you know, when we talk with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the expectations, we're talking about 24/7 medical supervision.


KEILAR: It comes at a time where Britain is just facing so many challenges, right?

SMITH: Yes. KEILAR: With a new prime minister, you have economic instability and so many concerns just in the day to day life of everyday Britons. And then you have the challenges that the royal family itself has also faced recently.

SMITH: Yes. Well, they have been dealing with a lot of family problems, with --

BERMAN: I think we just lost Sally Bedell Smith.

Let's go to Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international anchor here.

And, Christiane, just so people know what's on the right side of our screen here, we have a live picture from outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland. And it isn't clear what we'll be able to see in terms of people necessarily coming and going from there, but we do know that is where the queen is. We know the queen wasn't well enough to travel from Balmoral to Buckingham Palace to meet with her 15th prime minister, Liz Truss. We now know that Prince Charles and Prince William are both on their way to Balmoral to be with the queen. So that is where things will happen very shortly as we're watching this unfold, Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That's right. I think the -- going back to the statement from the palace, it's really important, you know, just to read exactly what they said, that they are concerned, and that she's under military - sorry, medical supervision. I think that listening to all the messages, listening to all what the prime minister said, what the archbishop of Canterbury has said. He's obviously her head of the church in this country, the head of the Anglican faith. She remains the top of the church in this country. The fact that he has put out that prayer on social media, as has been mentioned.

Look, I think - I think most people expect that this is a fantastically hard working and elderly lady who has had an unbelievable life and continues to have an incredible life, but that inevitably the country has been waiting for this moment, whenever it comes.


Whether it's now or in any other time in the future. She herself has indicated that she has had to step back from certain duties over the last several months. As I said some moments ago, she couldn't even really sort of take part fully in the celebrations of her jubilee, her platinum jubilee, 70 years on the throne. Just imagine that, working literally around the clock for 70 years.

And I think perhaps it's interesting to go back just a little bit right now to the origins, what brought her to the throne. What brought her to the throne, and Sally Bedell Smith was talking about the death of her father, King George V, was kind of an accident. The abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII. She then had to be the heir, although she wasn't called and wasn't officially designated heir apparent when her father became king. They went through the war. King George V became beloved of the nation because he had to step into this incredible role and do it to the best of his ability. You remember he had the speech impediment, which was shown in that incredible film "The King's Speech."

And her life, and the life of this particular line of monarchy, has been -- you know, has also coincided with the explosive media attention, the 24/7 social media. I mean, everything that she's done and everything that the monarchy has done has been under incredibly, you know, microscopic view. The whole, you know, Princess Diana years, the upheavals in the royal family, the time that she once said she had lived through an anisarebalis (ph), when it seemed like all the family problems were coalescing at one point. Then the emergence from that. And the ups and downs, mostly ups of her life as queen. She's met every single American president since Truman, although she met Truman when, you know, before she actually became queen. But every single American president, you know, way before our memory. She has met, she has held hands with, she has, in terms of shaking hands, counseled as well 15 prime ministers. Her very first prime minister was Winston Churchill.

So, her whole public life was built, started in the shadow of the kind of war that we're seeing a little bit of right now. The assault on the rule of law, democracy, human rights, the -- having to stand up for -- for - for, what can you say, for the right -- for the right stuff. And that's how she was shaped. And that's how she has continued to live her life and to reign as queen, with a sense of duty, despite everything else.

KEILAR: Yes, so well put, Christiane. She's been the constant through all of that, which is why there are so many questions this morning as we're following our breaking news.

The queen's doctors concerned for her health. Her heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William have dropped everything in London to head to Scotland to be by her side.

You're watching CNN's breaking news. We'll have much more ahead.



BERMAN: All right, welcome back. The breaking news this morning, a statement from Buckingham Palace that reads, the queen's doctors are concerned for her majesty's health and have recommend she remain under medical supervision. That is not language the palace has used before. And we learned immediately after that that Prince Charles and Prince William on their way to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be with the queen.

Let's get right to CNN's Max Foster, our chief royal correspondent, for an update.

Max, I understand you're getting some new information.

FOSTER: Well, yes, just really emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. So, all the queen's children are currently heading to Scotland. So, Prince Edward is heading there. Prince Andrew is heading there. And that's according to a separate source because he's no longer part of the royal fold, of course. Princess Anne is already there.

Significantly as well, I would say that BBC1, which is the, you know, the public broadcaster in the United Kingdom, the main channel, they've switched to rolling news coverage. In any sort of serious event, it would be BBC events that really take the lead on coverage within the U.K. on that. So it's significant that they've decided to go to rolling news coverage. I'm not saying that they necessarily have a huge amount more information than us, but what I would say is if palace is tuning into BBC1 and seeing rolling news coverage and they're not telling them to take them off it, then that's a significant moment in itself.

So, it does feel as though this is a very grave situation and the whole world, I have to say, the whole nation, rather, is highly concerned and they've got their TVs on, I can assume.

BERMAN: Very much a national event right now. And sometimes you can tell by what is not said as much as by what is said. And we do understand that in parliament both the conservative leader and the labour leader were handed notes. As you say, no one is being waved off at this point any comments about what is happening, Max.

And, again, the queen's health has come into acute focus again over the last few days.

FOSTER: Yes. So, there was concern, obviously, that she decided not to come to London to appoint the prime minister, which is a core constitutional role. There are two pillars of the queen's roles as the head of state, which is those formal constitutional duties, appointing prime ministers, signing laws, opening a new parliament. They, if there was nothing else, would have to be carried out. She did carry it out, but the prime ministers had to travel to Scotland. And that was unusual because in her entire 70-year reign, she's always travelled to Buckingham Palace to carry out that role. You know, a nod to the significance of the duty of appointing a new prime minister. She has no political role.


She's a head of state. But she delegates all of those powers, obviously, to the prime minister and, therefore, she is accountable, in many ways, you could argue, day to day, to the prime minister. But she was unable to do that. But that - we were wave away from any concern there, really, because that was just a diary issue. Then needed notice on whether or not she would be able to travel to London ahead of time and they couldn't promise that. So, the diary was arranged. So, the prime ministers went up to Scotland instead.

And then, of course, we had this moment last night, which we were very concerned about, where she canceled a zoom call. Again, a very central constitutional moment, appointing the new prime minister to the privy council. She was unable to even carry out a Zoom call. So there was some concern there. But, again, we were told she was comfortable.

She is comfortable today, we're told, and they are very concerned about her health, but they're not moving her to a hospital. They are overseeing her health within the castle. And, again, people are traveling to her, all of her children. Very busy children. They've all got their own lives. They've all dropped everything to travel immediately to Balmoral. So that reflects the severity of the situation.

KEILAR: And, Max, let's talk more about the queen's health now with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, back with us.

Look, Max has told us, Sanjay, that there are a lot of times where the palace is not going to be sharing a lot of detail about the health of the monarchy. They didn't share a lot about Prince Philip, even before he died and after he died. In this case, we obviously know something. She was in the hospital briefly in October of 2021. She's had mobility issues. She missed jubilee events. What will doctors be watching for now?

BERMAN: All right, we have audio issues with Sanjay. We'll get Sanjay back up in a minute.

Let's go to Anna Stewart, outside Buckingham Palace.

Anna, it's been about an hour since we first got the news that doctors were concerned about the queen's health. An hour since we learned now that the queen's entire family is on their way to be with her at Balmoral Castle.

What are you seeing outside Buckingham Palace?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Morning. Yes, morning, John.

Well, I think it's a testament just to how concerned the nation is by the fact that there are camera positions being set up very quickly right across here, right outside Buckingham Palace, where her majesty is, of course, in Balmoral.

And I think it's the very short statement we had from the palace, but the wording of it that we're really looking at here. Maybe we can bring that up for you. The palace saying, following further evaluations this morning, the queen's doctors are concerned for her majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The queen remains comfortable at Balmoral. The term "comfortable," of course, ringing some alarm bells.

And then, of course, royal sources, as you say, telling us that all the queen's children are now traveling to Balmoral to see her. And this is developing quite fast. So, we're waiting for more statements at this stage.

But, as you know, the queen has suffered from episodic mobility issues for some time now, since October last year, really, when she went into hospital overnight unexpectedly. Underwent what I would say was undisclosed testing and has missed many events since then. Many of her duties have been given already to member of the royal family. And, of course, many of her duties have been able, since the pandemic, to be done by Zoom.

But just this week, she was unable to travel here to Buckingham Palace, where you would normally receive an incoming prime minister. Instead, the outgoing prime minister and the new prime minister, Liz Truss, both travelled to Balmoral to see the queen. That was two days ago.

And then yesterday, a privy council meeting, another part of the process of introducing a new prime minister, was canceled despite that being taken by Zoom. So, there have been a number of events, I think, that are causing much concern here.


KEILAR: I do want to bring in Emily Nash right now, royal correspondent for "Hello! Magazine," back with us.

NASH: It's striking, Emily, when you think of this sort of chaotic path in a way that the queen took to the crown, from the abdication of her uncle, to her father unexpectedly becoming king, and then passing rather suddenly, and she being coronated quite young at 27. She has, at this point, really prepared this nation and the royal family, or done her best to, for a smooth transition. And you have this sense of that, as we are watching these events, and even this information as it comes out, unfold.

NASH: Absolutely. I mean, you know, we've had, just in the past year, her declaring that she wants it, Camilla to be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles becomes king. These are big statements for the queen to make. And it was very much about preparing us for the future and for what's to come.

And I think one that sticks in my mind in terms of images is the queen making that balcony appearance at the end of her platinum jubilee with her three direct heirs alongside her.


And it was very much about her presenting the future of the monarchy with one eye to what's going to come in the fullness of time. And, you know, there was never any question that she would abdicate. You know, she didn't want to replicate in any way what had happened to her father when his brother waved good-bye to his own duties. She has always been absolutely determined to serve and to fulfill her duties for as long as possible. And we saw that just this week as she appointed her 15th prime minister.

BERMAN: Emily, thank you. Stand by, if you will.

A kingdom in the world at this moment, watching, I think, with a sense of worry, amid the news from Buckingham Palace, the statement that doctors are concerned for the health of Queen Elizabeth II, 96 years old, on the throne for 70 years, concerned for her health. We learned that Prince Charles and Prince William on their way to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be with her. And moments ago we learned that all her children are going there to be by her side.

The United Kingdom seems to be stepping into a choreographed moment of watching this unfold. Again, the health of Queen Elizabeth in question this morning. We're finding out new details. Our special live coverage continues right after this.