The Queen, who is under doctors’ orders to rest at Windsor, has a bumper programme of celebrations to prepare for next year.
The monarch is gearing up for her milestone Platinum Jubilee, with a weekend of festivities being held next summer.
The four-day royal extravaganza in June – with an extra Bank Holiday – includes Trooping the Colour, a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, a visit to the Epsom Derby, a live concert at Buckingham Palace and a Jubilee Pageant.
The medical advice to the Queen to spend a few days resting comes just six months after the death of her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Queen was left bereft at the loss of her lifelong companion Philip, who died in his sleep at the age of 99, and was pictured sitting alone amid Covid restrictions at his funeral.
After the duke’s death, she quickly returned to official engagements – at an age when most people would have retired more than 30 years earlier.
She continued with her duties as she has always pledged to do, and within weeks appeared in public for the State Opening of Parliament.
The Queen has kept busy and as the Covid restrictions lifted, she was out and about enjoying her favourite pastimes, visiting the Royal Windsor Horse show and going to the races.
In the past two weeks, the monarch has attended a service at Westminster Abbey, opened the Welsh Senedd session in Cardiff, been to Ascot, and hosted a major global investment summit evening reception at Windsor.
In the next few weeks and months, the 95-year-old head of state is set to travel to Glasgow for the high-profile Cop26 climate change conference, attend Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph and then record her Christmas Day broadcast to the nation, among other events.
Her Cop26 visit is still said to be on the cards, and the announcement on Wednesday is not said to be Covid-related.
Buckingham Palace said the monarch was in good spirits and that she was disappointed to pull out of a two-day trip to Northern Ireland on the day it was due to begin.
She officially reaches her Platinum Jubilee on February 6 – the date when she acceded to the throne after the death of her father King George VI in 1952.
Generally, the Queen is known for her robust health even though she is just five years away from her 100th birthday.
In January 2020, she missed her annual visit to the Sandringham Women’s Institute due to a slight cold.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by Philip in lockdown.
The couple were vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their advanced age, but were protected by “HMS Bubble” – their reduced household of about 20 staff.
The monarch served as a symbol of national stability during the crisis, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.
She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”
Last week, she used a walking stick for what is believed to be the first time at a major public event when she attended a service marking the centenary of the Royal British Legion.
Despite her age, the Queen maintains a busy daily diary carrying out her duties as sovereign, dealing with official papers in her famous red boxes, and holding audiences and video calls.
As well coping with the duke’s death, the Queen and the royal family have endured some of their most turbulent times in modern history in recent years.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plunged the monarchy into crisis with their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, while Philip was in hospital.
Harry and Meghan accused an unnamed member of the family of racism towards their son Archie before he was born, and the institution of failing to help the suicidal duchess.
The pair quit as senior working royals in 2020 in favour of more freedom and the ability to earn their own money in the US.
Harry said he felt let down by his father the Prince of Wales and that “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened” in their relationship, and his long-standing rift with the Duke of Cambridge has continued.
In the aftermath of the Oprah broadcast, the Queen issued a statement saying “while some recollections may vary”, the issues would be taken “very seriously”, but dealt with privately as a family.
The scandal that engulfed the Queen’s second son the Duke of York, who was forced to step back from public duties in November 2019, moved up a gear this year.
Andrew had faced mounting pressure and calls to answer the FBI’s questions following his “car crash” Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
His friend Ghislaine Maxwell is to go on trial, charged with recruiting girls for Epstein.
Then in August 2021, Virginia Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein, started legal action against Andrew for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and still a minor under US law.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the civil suit seeking unspecified damages at a federal court in New York.
She alleges she was sexually abused by Andrew at Maxwell’s home in London, Epstein’s New York mansion and at other locations including Epstein’s private Caribbean island Little St James.
Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre.
Despite the royals’ problems, there have also been times of celebration, with the Queen welcoming a host of new great-grandchildren.
Princess Eugenie gave birth to her first child, a son called August, in February 2021 and Zara Tindall welcomed her third, Lucas, who was born at home on the bathroom floor the month after.
Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, who the Queen has yet to meet in person, arrived in June, and Princess Beatrice, who wed during the pandemic in a secret lockdown ceremony, had her daughter Sienna in September.
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