The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle after a short break on her Sandringham estate.
The 96-year-old monarch flew back to her Berkshire residence on Wednesday after spending five days privately in Norfolk.
It followed a trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week when the head of state made an increasingly rare run of official public appearances including attending the historic Ceremony of the Keys in Edinburgh.
The Queen is expected to hold her weekly audience with beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is facing the most serious crisis of his leadership, on Wednesday evening by telephone.
A delegation of Cabinet ministers is preparing to tell Mr Johnson to leave Downing Street after 17 ministers and a number of ministerial aides dramatically resigned.
In the past, Mr Johnson has described his weekly audiences with the Queen as similar to a “very touch interview”.
“She always asks the best questions,” he said in 2019.
He revealed during a Parliamentary tribute to the Queen in her Jubilee year that his regular meetings with the monarch were always “immensely comforting, because she has seen the sweep of it”.
Next Tuesday, the Queen is hoping to present the George Cross to the NHS during a special audience at Windsor.
Accompanied by the Prince of Wales, she will welcome the chief executives of the National Health Services of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a frontline worker from each of the home nations on July 12.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen, who has ongoing mobility problems, is planning to attend the audience, but a final decision will be made on the day.
The monarch awarded the NHS the prestigious bravery award a year ago for its “courage, compassion and dedication” during the pandemic and throughout the 70-plus years since its foundation.
In a few weeks’ time, she will be expected to return to Scotland for her annual holiday at Balmoral Castle in the Highlands.
The royal family traditionally retreat to the Queen’s private estate during the summer months, where they make the most of the countryside, enjoy barbecues and spend their time riding, fishing or walking.
The Queen took a short break at Balmoral at the end of May, ahead of the Jubilee celebrations, in order to pace herself before the festivities.
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