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CNN Live Event/Special
Buckingham Palace Queen's Doctors Are Concerned for Her Health; Royal Family Arriving at Airport in Aberdeen, Scotland. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired September 08, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: I'm Anderson Cooper welcoming our viewers in the United States and around the world. I want to get straight to the breaking news on the health of Britain's 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II.
Buckingham Palace putting the country and the world on alert with a statement saying quote, "Following further evaluation this morning the Queen's doctors are concerned for her Majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision." The Queen's children and other immediate family members rushing to her side at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Joining me now is CNN's as Max Foster live from London outside Buckingham Palace; also CNN's Scott McLean. McLean is outside Windsor Castle. Max first to you, what do we know about the Queen's health at this moment?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they described it as concerned. Doctors concerned about the Queen's health. They very rarely put any statements out about her health and they never speak in such stark language. So that is very concerned in the rest of our languages.
We also know that the Queen is at a castle. She's being overseen for medical attention. She's not being taken to a hospital. Read into that what you will. The bigger concern is that all the family have dropped everything that they were doing, and they are - they're headed immediately to Balmoral.
Prince Charles is already there, as is Princess Anne. I understand that other members of the royal family have landed at the airport about an hour away. I don't expect to get any more update until the whole family are within the castle and they've been informed personally about what is a big family moment.
I think we can also read into the fact that Prince Harry and Meghan who were in the U.K. have also dropped everything, are also heading to Scotland and putting all their personal differences with the rest of the family behind them to be with the rest of the family. So that is also very significant.
We've had the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior member of the Queen's Church, the Church of England, tweeting that he is praying for the Queen. he would have some insight access to information at the palace. We've also had the prime minister's office as well also tweeting about her level of concern.
So I have to say, a very strange atmosphere in the U.K. right now. People are sort of finishing up work, finishing up school. Everyone are getting multiple texts every minute asking, is she OK? I can't tell them if she's OK, but all the networks are in rolling coverage and the palace aren't asking us to dial down in any way, which suggests we are the right level of concern.
COOPER: Max, we're looking at a picture of an aircraft on the tarmac in Aberdeen, Scotland, which is the closest airport, I guess, to Balmoral. Talk a little bit if you can about which family members that we know are now in attendance. We don't know - we're told some members of the royal family were on that plane, we don't know who flew in on that plane.
I understand, Harry and Meghan had already been in England and were said to be heading toward Balmoral as well as Prince William. And I believe all of her children are already there. Is that correct?
FOSTER: It's all slightly disjointed, because they all have different spokespeople at the moment. So I would imagine on that plane is certainly Prince Edward and Sophie his wife. I also imagine that Prince Andrew is on that flight. Although, we've had separate confirmation that he's going up to Balmoral. He's got a separate team now.
Again, the Sussex has got a separate team as well. They could all be on that flight. We expect most of them to be on that flight. And then it's about an hour's drive to Balmoral, at which point there will be a moment, I'm sure, in the castle, where there will be a briefing for the whole family.
And after that point, if there is a big announcement to be made, it'll be first the prime minister who's informed and then it will be governors general, around the world. So particularly countries like Canada, and Australia, where the Queen is head of state, those prime ministers as well will also be informed. Then there'll be ambassadors, the U.S. Ambassador will be early to know as well. And then there'll be a public statement of some kind.
I'm expecting a statement in about an hour's time, if I'm honest, because I think that's when the family will arrive at Balmoral castle. And they'll be very keen to get information out as quickly as possible before there are any leaks. They're trying to keep control of all of this.
We don't know what the announcement is, Anderson, but it is grave. And it could be anything from the fact that she's delegating some authorities to Prince Charles, to the - obviously the thing that everyone's fearing right now. But we're going to have to wait for the formal announcement, which will be made publicly on the website, in an e-mail to me as well to make any official comments on what's actually going on out there.
COOPER: Max, if you could just talk a little bit about the Queen's health over this past year. She did have COVID months ago. She recovered from that. She was making public appearances again. How has her health been?
FOSTER: Well, she's definitely physically looked weaker over the past year, certainly since Prince Philip died, I would say.
There was initial concern, last year, when she was seen at a church service and she was walking with a cane. There was then a story that got leaked that she had visited a hospital. We weren't told about that. After the event we were told.
Well, we're not going to tell you about every visit to hospital. We'll only tell you if there's a major update or procedure. So that's why we know that something serious has happened, because they're giving us an update.
Now, what is the underlying cause of this mobility issue? We don't know. She's certainly going into hospital and getting checkups all the time. Checkups that can't be done in the palace by the palace doctors. So we don't know what the underlying cause is, just as we never knew what the underlying cause was, for Prince Philip.
But we know that she has had mobility issues which have restricted her. And that really came to the fore last night. We were very concerned when we heard that there was a Privy Council meeting, which is a core constitutional meeting, where the Prime Minister Liz Truss was due to be sworn in. And that was a Zoom call from Balmoral to the Privy Council, and the Queen couldn't even do that. She couldn't even do a Zoom call.
So that shows how concerned they were last night, although they said she was comfortable this morning. So we'll wait to see what changed, if anything, in the hours that came after that, and where we started hearing about visits to Balmoral from the rest of the family.
COOPER: She also made her first public appearance in some time, just recently at Balmoral, being introduced to the new British Prime Minister, as well as in a meeting with Boris Johnson, the outgoing Prime Minister.
FOSTER: Yes, much was made of the images there. She looked frail, her hand was blue, but she was standing. And she's 96 years old, and we weren't being told that she felt in any way uncomfortable. That's a very standard single image that we would get from one of these meetings. Nothing was hidden really there in terms of previous protocol. But obviously, a lot on social media, people were talking about how she looked. But she was standing, so we felt it was probably OK. It was only until the next day when she couldn't carry out that virtual meeting, and we were told that she had overexerting herself at the meeting with Liz truss. And that's just, you know, very basic meeting in her castle. So she's obviously overdone it.
I think the doctors who do take control, it has to be said, when things get really serious with the Queen, they may well have advised that she can't do any more of these meetings, even the most basic core meetings like that one. So the update we might get is that she's unable to carry out her public duties, and maybe delegating to her counselors or status they're known who are Prince William, and Prince Charles.
We'll wait to see if that's the case when we get the announcement a bit later on. But they have to give an update, because I have to say, the world's media are here. And the public are really, really concerned. You can see that. There's a different atmosphere in London today.
COOPER: Max also the Queen is, as we've said, is at Balmoral in Scotland. We saw that aircraft at the airport in Aberdeen, could you just talk about the importance of Balmoral to the Queen? American viewers might remember and viewers around the world may remember, Balmoral is where then Prince Harry and Prince William were when they learned of the death of their mother.
FOSTER: So Balmoral is the Queen's summer residence. It's a castle in Scotland. It's very hidden away. It's a massive estate and she loves her time there. And they do Country Pursuits. They go out hunting and shooting and fishing. That's what it's all about. It's interesting that Meghan, I know, felt a bit uncomfortable there, as did Diana, frankly, because they didn't - it's very rough and ready. It's not as you would imagine sort of a glamorous royal life to be. It's a proper country hardy ware with a Queen driving her Land Rover around the estate until very recently.
You're right, the symbolism of the place is that that's where Harry and William were staying when they heard the news that Diana had died in a car crash in Paris, and Prince Charles was there, the Queen was there, and they hunkered down, they protected those boys. And there was a bit of a backlash after a while because the public wanted to see the Queen.
They looked to the Queen in moments of mourning, and there was a backlash, largely based, I have to say on the palace here, because the flag wasn't taken to half mast, which is what the public was pushing for, what the British tabloids were pushing for. But that was unprecedented. That is never done over a palace unless there's - even if there's a death of a monarch.
And there's a big backlash, and then huge pressure on the Queen to appear and come down to London and mourn with the public. But of course, she was mourning with her boys and that was her - that was her priority and she suffered, I have to say. Her reputation suffered hugely as a result of that. But no regrets, I don't think, on her part that she put the family first.
But it was a reminder that she doesn't just have a duty to the family, she also has a duty to the country and we do look to her, and if she weren't there in public life as much, I think the British public will be pretty shocked about how they feel just as they were after the death of Diana.
COOPER: It is. Her family who is gathering now to be with her, to be near her. We should point out, Balmoral, which has been so important to the Queen Elizabeth became part of the royal family when Prince Albert bought it for his wife, then Queen Victoria. I think was in 1852. Max Foster standby.
In London, Scott McLean is outside Windsor Castle for us. Scott, what is the mood there? What are you hearing?
SCOTT McLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson, yes, so as Max pointed out earlier, this is the normal residence of Queen Elizabeth. She's at her summer home in Balmoral, Scotland right now. But normally, she would be here. This is obviously a sprawling castle grounds here and it is open for tourists today, so we've been watching people and talking to them as they come out of the castle for the time that we've been here.
And what's really interesting is that many hadn't heard anything. Many people are completely unaware of this news about the Queen's health at all, and so they're sort of turning to the assembled press wondering why on earth, we're all here. The people have read the headlines, but the information is so, so scant at this point that they're sort of left to draw whatever conclusion that they can, which isn't a whole lot.
What's also interesting Anderson is that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William's wife, she is still here in Windsor. The timing of this news is, is really interesting because the kids had just moved - the entire family actually had just moved from London where they've been staying in Kensington Palace in Central London, they had moved here to a house on the grounds called Adelaide House, a four bedroom house, where they moved, to give the kids a bit more privacy, to give their kids a bit more of a normal life.
Yesterday, there was a photo opportunity where both William and Kate dropped the three kids off at school, George, Louis, Charlotte, at their new school to at least check it out. Today, though, was their first official day and what a strange day it must have been for those kids with all, of course, this news coming out of Balmoral, Scotland and all of these question marks about the Queen's health, Anderson.
COOPER: And we should point out, Scott, the latest information that we have is that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are at Balmoral, the Queen's daughter Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, is said to be also at Balmoral.
Prince Andrew, Prince Edward are said to be on their way there. Again there - as Max Foster was saying there's different spokespeople, so exactly pinpointing their exact location so it's a little bit tricky. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge is said to be traveling there, as you said. His wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge is still at Windsor, because it's their kids first day of school.
And Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who were in England are also said to be traveling to Balmoral according to a spokesperson. So we're trying to find out exactly when they plan together. We did see that that aircraft on the tarmac in Aberdeen.
I want to take a short break. We're going to come back with our continuing coverage from Great Britain. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Back now to our continuing coverage. More of the breaking news. Doctors are monitoring the health of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Buckingham Palace has put out the following statement. I quote, "Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen's doctors are concerned for her Majesty's health and have recommended to remain under medical supervision." Her family is rushing to be at her side.
CNN's Max Foster is live for us from London outside Buckingham Palace. Max, obviously, this is a family which the world has followed, there are ups and downs, the tensions within the family. Clearly, it seems all members of this family are trying to - they're not already at Balmoral, get there and all be there together.
FOSTER: So Prince William and Prince Harry haven't done anything together since the moment where they unveiled a statue for their mother, Diana at Kensington Palace. There's a massive rift there. But what's happened here is that Harry and Meghan and William are all heading in the same direction. They're putting all their differences behind.
You can't really underestimate the tension between those two. There's a deep distrust, and they literally are not having anything to do with each other. So the fact that they've gone out there to be together is - really shows the gravity of all going out there together.
Also, Meghan has got a lot of tension with other members of the family. But they're all there together. Prince Edward and Andrew as well. Prince Andrew hasn't been involved in any sort of public events at all in the royal family since a scandal involving him, and that court case in New York.
So I think the significance of them all coming together is big. And also the fact that they've all dropped everything to go up there today, and that private jet was organized pretty last minute. So there's been a turn of events out there.
I think Balmoral is also a very safe space for them all. It's somewhere where they all have the summer holidays, and it's something there's lots of space up there for them. So we'll wait to see how things are handled from here. But as soon as we get the first sorts of announcements, we get a better sense of how serious this is for the Queen. But she's certainly out of action to some extent. The fact that she's canceled even the most central constitutional duties and now the family are gathering, and we've been told that it's a serious situation for the queen.
COOPER: Yes. Max Foster in London. I want to bring in CNN's Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane when one looks and thinks back on the Queen's reign - more than 70 years, she has reigned. The longest serving British monarch in history.
The sixth the woman to take the throne ever in British history. And I read a statistic, which more than 80 percent of the British public has lived their entire life with Queen Elizabeth on the throne.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That's exactly right. I mean, look, her reign is much longer than any of us, you know, our lifespans, and it is extraordinary. On that Buckingham Palace balcony before - behind us all, the last time we saw her there doing her royal thing, was during the celebration of that Platinum Jubilee. It was in early June.
And she did come out. It was it was a sort of a pared back appearance by her, because she was meant to take part in many other parts of this long weekend celebration, but she couldn't. But nonetheless, she did appear, and then again with the whole family. And I think the people here were really grateful to be able to see her.
The history of her reign is also colossal, because it began almost accidentally. She wasn't meant to be, she wasn't the crown princess. She only became the heir when her father became king, because his brother, Edward VIII, had to abdicate, because he wanted to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
Now we're going way, way back, but that's what happened and that's what brought her father to be king during the war. And he and the family, including Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Elizabeth, and her sister, really did stand up and rallied the British people. She was wearing a uniform, the Queen. She went out and did her military service, so to speak, in terms of engineering and actually working with some of the military vehicles. And she always spoke about it later in life of how formative that period was.
So just to say that that is such a life, you know, defining experience to be brought up in. And then on her honeymoon, she was called back. In fact, it was Prince Philip, who told her that, that the king had died, or it was a trip to Kenya and anyway they had to come back. And then she became she became Queen. So yes, it was on her honeymoon.
And there was that amazing coronation. I think it was the first televised in, in the Abbey. And it was extraordinary. So her reign also, as we've been saying, spanned the television age and was made for television. The family drama, you couldn't have written it. Well, it has actually been written, of course in the Crown Series. But it is a massive drama.
But she herself has been this solid character, this woman of unfailing integrity, of absolutely determined duty and she has never wavered from that. And I think that is really what stands out through the turn of the century and through all the upheaval of the 21st Century so far, starting with 9/11 and to where we are right now.
And you know, Anderson, the Queen is there to keep the people sort of together and unified, as well - you know, celebrating as well as in great crises. And we are here in Britain in a great crisis right now, along with much of Europe - inflation, energy exploding prices, you know, people going - the workers going on strike, it's a very unstable moment, right now and new prime minister.
COOPER: And one of her secretaries had said in the past that she's as constant as the North Star for Great Britain. And I think it's such an interesting idea. There is this steadiness in her reign, this resoluteness, which you spoke about, which people have grown used to and accustomed to. She so embodies that sort of British spirit of just, you know, keep calm, carry on. It is - it sort of shakes the foundations not only of Great Britain of the Commonwealth, to think of her - to think of anybody else on that throne.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes, Anderson, it really does. Because, you know, she was - I mean, I want to say she had an old fashioned sense of responsibility, purpose, mission and duty. And that is sort of out of vogue now, it just is. She's really the last one to embody that. And remember, she wasn't just the longest serving - is not just the longest serving British Queen, but in history, the longest serving monarch.
There was a moment where there was a French Louis who was - you know, served longer, but he was put on the throne at the age of four. But so as a meaningful monarch, she has been the longest.
So what does that mean? It's not just a milestone. It means that she has been involved in all the crucial moments of history, first and foremost, for the last 70 years, from the war to then the Cold War, to then the fall of the Berlin wall. She went and visited the Berlin in '65, when the wall was still up, and she went and visited it afterwards.
She was friends and allies and business partners with every president back to Harry Truman, although she met him before she became Queen, but nonetheless. And she's had a very, very strong relationship with monarchs and people around the world through the Commonwealth.
She also presided over the - essentially the disintegration of the Commonwealth as it was when she came into power. Now it's a much more loosely organized group of countries with independence, obviously. It wasn't this case when she was - when she became queen.
And she's really - she's seen it all she's seen. She's seen the way history and democracy have come to their own and she's seen the way democracy is under threat right now in our own backyard here in Europe.
COOPER: Yes, 14 U.S. Presidents she has seen come and go, at least 15 British Prime Ministers, seven Pope's as well. Just 70 years on the throne. Christiane, stay with us, Max foster as well. We'll have more on the Queen next.