Buckingham Palace was accused yesterday of misleading the nation over the state of the Queen’s health.

Nicholas Witchell, BBC royal correspondent, questioned whether the palace had compromised public trust by not disclosing that she had been admitted to hospital. The 95-year-old monarch was admitted to King Edward VII’s on Wednesday afternoon and stayed there overnight for tests.

A scheduled two-day visit to Northern Ireland had been cancelled at the very last moment.

The palace’s communications team told journalists the Queen had remained at Windsor Castle.

However on Thursday night – more than 24 hours later – it confirmed she had been taken to the private hospital in London.

Buckingham Palace was accused yesterday of misleading the nation over the state of the Queen¿s health

Buckingham Palace was accused yesterday of misleading the nation over the state of the Queen’s health

Unusually, the royal flag remained at Windsor on Wednesday, even though the Queen had left. The flag is the sovereign’s and is only flown when she’s present.

According to a royal source, the standard was not moved to every building she visited. The source said Windsor had remained the Queen’s residence, despite the overnight trip. Mr Witchell insisted journalists – and the public – ‘weren’t given the complete picture’. He added: ‘The problem, it seems to me, is that rumour and misinformation always thrive in the absence of proper, accurate and trustworthy information.’

Peter Hunt, a royal commentator and former BBC journalist, claimed there had been a ‘failed attempt’ to cover up the hospital admission. He said: ‘The media’s faith in the veracity of royal communications will have been sorely tested by the failed attempt to hide the fact the Queen spent a night in hospital. Buckingham Palace can ill afford a breakdown in trust, given all they’re dealing with.’

Because the Royal Family is entitled privacy and medical confidentiality, palace officials are often reluctant to reveal information relating to health issues.

If a senior royal is hospitalized, updates are usually made. However, the health and wellbeing of the monarch is a constitutional concern. As head of state, the Queen’s health has been subject to intense scrutiny, which increases as she gets older.

The revelation that she had needed to be seen by specialists in hospital – her first overnight stay for eight years – has fuelled public concern about her health.

The 95-year-old monarch was admitted to King Edward VII¿s on Wednesday afternoon and stayed there overnight for tests

The 95-year-old monarch was admitted to King Edward VII’s on Wednesday afternoon and stayed there overnight for tests

Mr Witchell told BBC Breakfast: ‘We are told that she’s back at Windsor Castle, undertaking light duties. Well, we must hope that we can place reliance on what the palace is telling us.’ Royal expert and biographer Ingrid Seward said: ‘They did mislead the media. I think they were trying to protect the Queen, because she would not have wanted a fuss, but it was misleading.’

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, added: ‘The Queen does have a right to a certain degree of privacy, but on the other hand she’s head of state.

‘So does that entitle us to know exactly what ailments she may or may not have? It’s a very difficult one to get the balance right for the satisfaction of everybody.’

On Thursday, the Queen was discharged from hospital and is expected to stay in Windsor, where she was advised to rest. Buckingham Palace has not disclosed the nature of the tests carried out at King Edward VII’s and it is not known whether she will need any further examination or treatment.

She was transported by car from Windsor to the hospital, rather than by helicopter. She was expected to stay there for a brief time while she was being seen by specialists. The decision to admit her overnight was taken for ‘practical reasons’, a source said.

A royal spokesman said on Thursday night : ‘Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor at lunchtime [on Thursday], and remains in good spirits.’

The hospital was not mentioned the day before. A senior royal aide argued that the monarch was entitled to privacy on medical issues and the palace had never given a ‘running commentary’ on her health. They maintained that preliminary investigations and tests should be kept secret.

They said that if she went in for a more serious reason, they would have probably told the public. In 2018, however, the Queen secretly underwent surgery to remove a cataract.

After almost 70 years on the throne, the Queen is the world’s longest-reigning monarch and has largely enjoyed robust health. She has also had to deal with a difficult 18-month, including the death in April of her husband Philip and the departure of Prince Harry (and his wife Meghan)

After a long and exhausting programme that included a large reception at Windsor on Tuesday, the Queen was advised by doctors to rest. Sources said that future commitments such as the COP26 climate summit were still in the plan but would need to be confirmed closer to the time.

Her office is awaiting the results of the preliminary tests, and will then see how the monarch feels.