Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Britain's Queen Elizabeth IIAFP file

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been admitted to the hospital for the first time in 10 years as a precautionary measure, after struggling to shake off a bout of gastroenteritis, AFP reported.

Known for her robust health and devotion to duty, the 86-year-old queen rarely misses engagements, but was forced to cancel her planned visit to Rome this week due to her illness, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, according to AFP.

"The Queen is being assessed at King Edward VII's Hospital in London after experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. As a precaution, all official engagements this week will be either postponed or cancelled," the palace spokesman said.

He said she was in "good spirits" and was otherwise in "good health".

"This is a precautionary measure," the spokesman added.

"She was not taken into hospital immediately after feeling the symptoms.

"This is simply to enable doctors to better assess her."

The Queen was reported to have been well enough earlier Sunday to present an award to a member of staff for her long service, and broadcasters reported the monarch would remain in hospital under observation for about two days.

It was also reported that she would not be taking visitors in order to minimize publicity.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday issued a statement saying: "We wish the Queen well and wish her a speedy recovery."

After coming down Friday with gastroenteritis -- an infection of the stomach and bowel with symptoms commonly including vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration -- the sovereign missed celebrations in Swansea on Saturday to mark St. David's Day, the national day of Wales.

Instead of attending the engagement, she had been resting at Windsor Castle, west of London, where she and her husband Prince Philip usually spend the weekend.

The fact that she was then taken to the royals' regular hospital in central London suggests her condition did not warrant finding a hospital close to Windsor, according to AFP.

In December, her grandson Prince William's pregnant wife Catherine spent three days at the private hospital with acute morning sickness.

A nurse at the hospital was found hanged after taking a hoax call from two Australian radio presenters posing as the queen and William's father Prince Charles, which led to details of Catherine's condition being made public.

Police officers were stationed outside the hospital entrance on Sunday.

Queen Elizabeth was due to visit the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster in the east London docklands on Tuesday.

A reception for British and European Union lawmakers at Buckingham Palace later this week will go ahead as planned, and will be attended by other members of the royal family.

The sovereign and Prince Philip were then supposed to visit Rome on Wednesday and Thursday, where they were to meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

They were due to receive a ceremonial welcome and attend a private lunch, before visiting ancient monument the Pantheon.

On a statement published on his website, the Italian president wished the monarch a speedy recovery and thanked her for her attempts to visit him in Rome before he leaves his post in mid-May, AFP reported.

Queen Elizabeth was last admitted to hospital 10 years ago.

She had an operation at King Edward VII's Hospital to remove cartilage from her left knee on December 12, 2003 and had some benign facial lesions removed at the same time.

She was last forced to pull out of an investiture ceremony -- where she presents honors including knighthoods -- in October last year due to a bad back.

The monarch celebrated her diamond jubilee in 2012, marking her 60 years on the throne. This year further ceremonies will be held to mark the six decades since her 1953 coronation.