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The Queen's appearance comes days after the palace issued a statement on her behalf following her grandson Harry and Meghan's revealing interview

By Erin Hill
March 12, 2021 01:21 PM
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Queen Elizabeth is back to royal business three days after releasing a response to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's revealing Oprah Winfrey interview.

On Friday, it was shared by the palace that the Queen, 94, joined a virtual science showcase to mark British Science Week, a celebration of the role played in U.K. society by science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The video call included British scientists, educators and schoolchildren.

The monarch is a longstanding champion of British science, engineering and endeavor and has marked key milestones in science and space exploration throughout her reign — including the moon landing in 1969. She welcomed Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to Buckingham Palace.

She also recalled meeting Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel into space, at the palace in 1961, shortly following his return to Earth.

Queen Elizabeth video call
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Buckingham Palace

"It was very interesting to meet him. And I suppose being the first one, it was particularly fascinating," she said.

Dr. Maggie Aderin- Pocock MBE added, "It must have been very terrifying to be the first one, and not really knowing what was going to happen."

The Queen replied, "Well, yes – and if you could come back again. That's very important!"

Queen Elizabeth video call
Queen Elizabeth

Later in the call, the Queen was briefed on the latest updates from the NASA Mars Perseverance mission by Professor Caroline Smith, Professor of Earth Sciences and Principal Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum in London.

After being shown images taken by the rover on the surface of Mars, the Queen said, "It's fascinating to see the pictures of Mars – it's unbelievable really to think one can actually see its surface!"

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At the end of the call, the monarch told the group, "It's been very interesting to hear from you all. I hope the children have enjoyed it too – they might learn something from it as well! Thank you very much indeed. It's wonderful work you are all doing."

As a memento from the session, the Queen was presented with a set of Mars Perseverance rover face masks, sent from NASA headquarters to Windsor Castle. Professor Smith asked that one of the masks be gifted to Prince Philip, who is currently in the hospital, given his particular interest in space exploration —a fact that was addressed in season 3 of The Crown.

Queen Elizabeth video call
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Buckingham Palace

The Queen's appearance comes days after the palace issued a statement on her behalf following her grandson Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey last Sunday.

During the sit-down, Meghan said that there were "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born" voiced by a member of the royal family. Harry has said that neither the Queen nor Prince Philip made the comment.

"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," reads the statement, which was released on Tuesday.

"The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning," the statement continued. "While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. 

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."

Oprah With Meghan And Harry
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey
| Credit: CBS/Youtube

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A palace source stresses to PEOPLE that at the "heart of this is a family, and they should be given the opportunity to discuss the issues raised privately, as a family."

On Thursday, Prince William hit back at racism claims following the interview, telling a Sky News reporter, "We are very much not a racist family."

When asked if he had spoken to Harry after the Oprah interview, he added, "No, I haven't spoken to him yet, but I will do."