LONDON — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was hospitalized Sunday over an apparent stomach infection that has ailed her for days, a rare instance of ill health sidelining the long-reigning monarch. Elizabeth will have to cancel a visit to Rome and other engagements as she recovers, and outside experts said she may have to be rehydrated intravenously.
Buckingham Palace said the 86-year-old queen had experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis and was being examined at London’s King Edward VII Hospital — the first time in a decade that Elizabeth has been hospitalized.
“As a precaution, all official engagements for this week will regrettably be either postponed or cancelled,” the palace said in a statement. Elizabeth’s two-day trip to Rome had been planned to start Wednesday. A spokeswoman said the trip may be “reinstated” at a later date.
The symptoms of gastroenteritis — vomiting and diarrhea — usually pass after one or two days, although they can be more severe in older or otherwise vulnerable people. Dehydration is a common complication.
The illness was first announced Friday, and Elizabeth had to cancel a visit to Swansea, Wales, on Saturday to present leeks — a national symbol — to soldiers of the Royal Welsh Regiment in honor of Wales’ national day, St. David’s Day. She instead spent the day trying to recover at Windsor Castle but appears to have had trouble kicking the bug.
A doctor not involved in the queen’s treatment said that if medical officials determined that she is losing too much fluid, she would be rehydrated intravenously.
“Not everyone can keep up with oral hydration so it is pretty routine to go to hospital and have a drip and wait for the thing to pass and keep yourself hydrated,” said Dr. Christopher Hawkey of the University of Nottingham’s faculty of medicine and health sciences.
Britain’s National Health Service said that the two most common causes of gastroenteritis in adults are food poisoning and the norovirus, a common winter vomiting bug which typically afflicts between 600,000 and 1 million Britons each year. British health guidelines advise that people with the norovirus avoid work for at least two days.