Queen Elizabeth II holds in-person meeting with Oman's sultan

London (AFP) – Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday made a rare public appearance, hosting Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tareq and his wife, Sayyida Ahad bint Abdullah, at Windsor Castle.


The 95-year-old monarch has cut back on her engagements since an overnight hospital stay in October that raised fears for her health and prompted doctors to advise rest.

Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement that she met the Sultan, 66, at her historic residence west of London, without giving further details.

The two heads of state, and Sayyida Ahad, 51, were pictured smiling and shaking hands.

The Gulf state ruler, a former culture and heritage minister who studied at Oxford University, came to power after the death of his cousin, Sultan Qaboos, last year.

He had been the Arab world's longest-serving ruler.

Queen Elizabeth II next year marks her 70th year on the throne -- a record in British history.

The monarch moved to Windsor in March last year and effectively self-isolated from the coronavirus pandemic with her husband, Prince Philip, because of their age.

Philip died aged 99 in April after a month-long stay in hospital with a heart condition. The Queen resumed duties after his funeral and the official mourning period.

But since her hospital stay, at which she underwent unspecified tests, she has only been undertaking what palace officials said were light duties, including online meetings.

Britain is facing a new wave of infections from the Omicron strain of the virus, prompting the government to impose new restrictions and warnings about social gatherings.

The Queen was last year forced to cancel her traditional pre-Christmas family party last year because of strict rules on social distancing and indoor mixing.

But British media reported she was still considering whether to hold the event this year, bringing together her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.