The Queen“s cousin Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, has cancelled all her public engagements “for the foreseeable future”.
The sister of the Duke of Kent, 76, suffers from polymyalgia rheumatic, a particularly debilitating type of arthritis. She has not been seen in public this year, and missed out on the Queen”s coronation celebrations.
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A Palace spokeswoman said: “Her Royal Highness had a viral infection at the end of last year and was advised to rest. We do not know when she will next appear in public.”
The Princess, who is 42nd in line to the throne, carried out 110 engagements in 2012 and was last seen on royal duty when she attended a service to mark the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews at St Paul”s Cathedral on 20 December.
She is said to be “in good spirits”, despite doctors” orders for her to rest.
The granddaughter of King George V is understood to be taking steroids to control the condition, which leads to stiffness in the joints and in some cases can cause blindness.
Side effects of the treatment include thinning of the bones and swelling of the face.
The Princess, who is patron of various charities, lives in a royal residence in Richmond Park, South-West London.
She is said to be keen to strike up her royal duties once again, but for the moment at least, her diary remains free of public engagements.