The Queen (unlike others) manages to avoid shaking hands with people

The Queen meets meets high commissioner of Sri Lanka Saroja Sirisena and Sudath Talpahewa during an audience at Buckingham Palace (PA)

The last few days have proved it's incredibly hard to change your habits.

World leaders and health experts have been at pains to suggest that members of the the public need to change their behaviour to halt the spread of coronavirus.

And it seems the Queen, for one, is listening.

During a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday there were no handshakes from the monarch as she greeted Sri Lankan high commissioner Saroja Sirisena and her husband Dr Sudath Talpahewa.

The Queen avoided shaking the couple's hands during the encounter (PA)

The Queen was not wearing gloves, but unlike her audiences last week, there was no handshaking during the brief meeting.

Saroja Sirisena handed over her credentials which the Queen received, and Dr Talpahewa bowed to the head of state from a distance as he was introduced.

It follows advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) to avoid unnecessary physical contact to avoid transmitting coronavirus.

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Other world leaders, however, have already gone against the advice.

Earlier this week, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was caught out after shaking hands with a health official moments after telling people to avoid handshakes.

Boris Johnson was also told not to shake hands with dignitaries including the Queen at the Commonwealth Service on Monday. He was later seen clasping hands with boxer Anthony Joshua.

The Prince of Wales, who was also attending the event, opted for a “namaste” greeting as he was introduced to guests at Westminster Abbey, while Prince Harry bumped elbows with musician Craig David and the Duchess of Sussex decided to hug the 7 Days singer.


Johnson said: “We were all given an instruction not to shake hands and there’s a good reason for not shaking hands, which is that the behavioural psychologists say that if you don’t shake somebody’s hand then that sends an important message to them about the importance of washing your hands.

“So there’s a subliminal cue there to everybody to wash your hands, which is, I think I’m right in saying… far more important.”

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Handshaking was “a matter for individual choice” but was much less important than washing, he added.

US-based health official Dr Sara Cody, director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, also fell foul of the rules while giving a speech about coronavirus last week.

While advising people against touching their mouth, a viral clip showed Dr Coady licking her finger to turn a page in her notes just seconds later.