The Queen has said people who refuse the coronavirus vaccine “ought to think about other people rather than themselves”.
In her first comments on the subject, Her Majesty said it was important that people were “protected” by the vaccine.
Speaking to the senior responsible officers overseeing the delivery of the vaccine across all four UK nations, she said that her own immunisation, administered at Windsor Castle in January, was “very quick,” adding: “It didn’t hurt at all.”
She added: “Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important.
“And I think the other thing is that it is obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine… but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.”
The vaccine rollout has been beset by hesitancy, largely among black ethnic minority communities, of whom just 72 per cent are willing to have the jab.
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine deployment minister, said the Government rollout was battling a “tsunami” of vaccine misinformation.
Royal sources said it was the Queen’s “passionately held belief” that everyone should take part in the programme.
Her comments were described as an “incredibly important vote of confidence” in the campaign. They are reminiscent of her decision in 1957 to let it be known that Prince Charles and Princess Anne had been given the polio vaccine in order to counter public fears.
The Queen also intervened in the debate over Scottish independence, urging her subjects to “think carefully” before voting in the 2014 referendum.
The Royal Family has taken an increasingly prominent role in publicising the campaign, returning to public engagements for the first time this year in order to visit vaccination hubs and speak to NHS staff and volunteers.
Senior royals are said to be “very engaged” with the programme and aware of the lower rate of vaccine uptake among ethnic minority communities, a concern highlighted by the Prince of Wales, patron of the British Asian Trust, in a webinar last week.
A palace source said they had “been encouraged to support (the campaign) and have been very keen to do so”.
When she addressed the nation last April, the Queen shared her belief that “if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome” the challenges of Covid-19.