The 94-year-old Queen is back in action as she made her first public engagement outside a royal residence since the coronavirus pandemic swept the country. She is joined by her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, at the Defense Science and Technology Lab in Porton Down near Salisbury, where she met scientists who have provided vital support in the UK’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

But they were criticized for not wearing face masks during the visit.

Journalist Darren McCaffrey tweeted: “The Queen, the future king and cop – but there’s no mask in sight.

“Should they be role models and wear a role model?”

Martin McHugh replied, “One hundred percent they should. It doesn’t matter who you are at.”

They’re supposed to be role models, “Colette Jones said.

Royal author Omid Scobey commented, “Although I clearly take reasonable and safe precautions, I am concerned that most of the people who see the photos / videos will not know the backstory.

“With the majority of the UK introducing tighter restrictions, seeing the leaders in masks would have been visually powerful.”

Meanwhile, the anti-monarchical group Republic tweeted: “Is this the way the rules work?”

“The Queen should be an example,” said Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, which is fighting for an elected head of state.

“I can’t see how this fits within the rules anyone else is expected to follow, so minors need to provide an explanation that aligns with the rules.”

Royal commentator Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty, said the Queen and William would inevitably be criticized, but the medical advice would have been carefully followed.

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“The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge will inevitably face criticism for not wearing a face covering, but medical advice was sought during the planning of the royal visit and it appears that social distancing has been maintained throughout,” Little said.

He described the Queen’s participation as providing “clear and timely reassurance” during the global pandemic.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “Specific advice was obtained from the medical family and interested parties, all necessary precautions have been taken, working closely with the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory.”

Salisbury’s participation comes amid a renewed spread of the virus, as the country fights a second wave and tighter restrictions in some areas.

Face coverings are required by law in some indoor places such as public transport, shops, and places of worship.

The government recommends wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing can be difficult and where the public is in contact with those they would not normally meet.

The Queen was in the last official public participation outside the royal residence when she joined the royal family for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.