Queen in hospital with stomach bug, Buckingham Palace says

Philippa Young reports on the Queen's admission to hospital in London

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The Queen is in hospital as a precaution, while she is assessed for symptoms of gastroenteritis, Buckingham Palace says.

The 86-year-old monarch has been taken to King Edward VII's Hospital in London, a palace spokesman said.

She was driven to hospital in a private car on Sunday afternoon. The palace said she was "in good spirits".

All official engagements for this week, including the Queen's trip to Rome, will be either cancelled or postponed.

She had earlier carried out a medal presentation at Windsor Castle, where she has been resting over the weekend.

'Good health'

The Queen, like many other people, is reluctant to disclose too much detail about the state of her health.

For a woman who has lived for decades on a very public stage, this is information she regards as private.

So, for this first hospital stay in 10 years, we know the 86-year-old monarch is in "good spirits". She is not bed-ridden. She has been up and about.

Officials say she will be assessed over the next two days.

Her treatment for a condition which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and which her aides will not discuss, could include re-hydration and tests to establish if the illness has been caused by an infection or an underlying problem.

Her brief time in hospital will offer the Queen time to rest and give her staff an opportunity to examine the workload of an octogenarian who has no intention of retiring.

A spokesman for the Queen said she was in "good health", besides the symptoms of gastroenteritis.

He said: "This is a precautionary measure.

"She was not taken into hospital immediately after feeling the symptoms. This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her."

Prime Minister David Cameron sent his "best wishes" to the Queen, adding in a tweet: "I hope she makes a speedy recovery."

The BBC's royal correspondent Peter Hunt says the Queen will remain in hospital under observation for about two days.

She was last in hospital 10 years ago for a minor knee operation.

The BBC's Ben Ando, outside the central London hospital, says there is a small police presence and members of the press from around the world have gathered near the entrance.

There is no sign of any visitors to the Queen as yet, says our correspondent.

News of her illness emerged on Friday night, and she was forced to cancel a trip to Swansea on Saturday to mark St David's Day in a military ceremony.

Gastroenteritis causes inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines.

Police officers outside the King Edward VII Hospital in London, where the Queen has been admitted Britain's tallest police officer - PC Anthony Wallyn, who is 7ft 2in - was among the officers standing guard at the hospital

The infection can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or contaminated food and drink. Symptoms can include vomiting, fever and stomach ache.

The Queen's treatment, which has not been disclosed, could include rehydration and tests to establish if the illness has been caused by an infection or an underlying problem.

'Slightly unwilling'

What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the stomach and large intestine, which affects about one in five people in the UK each year.

The two most common causes in adults are the norovirus and food poisoning.

It prevents normal absorption of water from the contents of your digestive system, causing diarrhoea.

Most cases clear up after a few days without any need for medical treatment. The key is to drink plenty of water.

However, severe symptoms can cause dehydration, which left untreated can potentially be fatal.

In these cases hospital treatment to replace lost fluids may be necessary.

People who are ill with other health problems, or the elderly, may be more vulnerable to dehydration.

The Queen had been due to spend two days in Rome with the Duke of Edinburgh next weekend, at the invitation of Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano.

It is not now clear whether the visit will be re-scheduled.

A reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday for MPs and MEPs will go ahead with other members of the royal family present.

According to the BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, the Queen may well have gone to hospital slightly unwillingly, as her inclination is not to make a fuss.

During last year's celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee, the Queen spent a rain-drenched day journeying down the Thames as part of the river pageant - after which her husband, the 91-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, was taken to hospital with a bladder infection.

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