The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent more time under the same roof together during the coronavirus lockdown than they had in many years.
Philip had been occupying himself in his retirement mostly at his cottage, Wood Farm, in the sanctuary of the Sandringham estate, more than 100 miles away from the Queen, who was usually at Buckingham Palace or at Windsor.
But they were reunited at the Berkshire castle for their safety after Philip was flown there by helicopter on March 19 2020 ahead of the restriction on movements amid the pandemic.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, told the PA news agency it was “an opportunity for them in their later years to reconnect” and the “perfect royal cocooning”.
The couple were attended to by a reduced household of around 20 staff in what was dubbed HMS Bubble.
The monarch and Philip most likely had lunch or dinner together each day while spending other time on their separate interests.
Philip kept himself busy reading, writing and painting, and even released a rare public statement in April 2020, his first since his retirement, praising key workers and those making sure that essential services are kept running during the coronavirus pandemic.
As well as enjoying riding her fell ponies in Windsor Home Park, the Queen had her official duties to deal with, including her red boxes of papers and regular telephone audiences, along with video-calls as royal duties changed in an unprecedented way.
The Queen served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, 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.”
In the confines of the castle grounds, the monarch and Philip were pictured together to mark the duke turning 99 in June 2020.
The Queen also had her 94th birthday, knighted fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore and celebrated her official birthday by watching a military parade, while Philip stepped out of retirement to carry out a rare public engagement as he handed over his role as colonel-in-chief of The Rifles.
While the royal couple, who were married for more than 70 years, had the chance to be together, they were separated from the rest of the Windsors.
The royal family followed the lockdown rules and stayed apart at their separate homes around the country.
The Prince of Wales, who caught the Covid-19 illness but only mildly, spoke of not being able to see Philip as the restrictions persisted.
Charles spent much of the first lockdown 500 miles from Windsor, at Birkhall in Scotland with the Duchess of Cornwall.
The prince said in June 2020: “Well I haven’t seen my father for a long time.
“He’s going to be 99 next week, so yes, or my grandchildren or anything. I’ve been doing the FaceTime, is all very well but … ”
He added: “It isn’t the same, is it? You really want to give people a hug.”
The Queen and Philip’s other children, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, were all at their separate homes.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed at Anmer Hall in Norfolk with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis for the first lockdown, while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor were thousands of miles away in Los Angeles.
The royals adapted by keeping in contact with video calls.
Archie, who was about to turn one, joined his parents for an on-screen chat with the Queen to wish her happy birthday in April 2020.
The Queen and Philip were, however, able to attend a family celebration in person – granddaughter Princess Beatrice’s private lockdown wedding to property tycoon Edo Mapelli Mozzi held in a small church in the grounds of Royal Lodge, Windsor.
Beatrice and Edo were pictured with the monarch and the duke in their official wedding photos, with the princess dressed in a vintage dress and tiara, both on loan from the Queen.
In the summer, the Queen and Philip were reunited – albeit socially distanced – with some of their family members, including the Cambridges, at Balmoral after restrictions allowed their annual holiday in Aberdeenshire to go ahead.
A brief stay in Sandringham followed, after which the Queen returned to Windsor to focus on her official duties, while Philip stayed in Norfolk.
The Queen kept busy, carrying out her first public engagement outside of a royal residence since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the nation.
She visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down with William in October – but did not wear a mask.
At the start of November, after just under a month apart, Philip returned to Windsor to be with the Queen, ready for England’s second national lockdown.
The Queen was finally pictured in a mask in November when she visited the grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of his burial.
The couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on November 20, and were pictured together looking at a card made for them by the Cambridge children.
Plans for Christmas were put in place, with Buckingham Palace confirming the Queen and Philip would spend it together at Windsor, apart from the rest of the royal family.
Royal author Penny Junor said the monarch and her consort were being “very sensible” and showing “real leadership” about what was the right thing to do during the pandemic.
In early December, the Queen had a socially distanced royal reunion with William, Kate, Charles, Camilla, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Anne at Windsor at an outdoor Christmas carol concert at the end of the Cambridges’ royal train tour.
But there was no sign of Philip at the festive gathering.
Ahead of Christmas, the duke released a rare public message praising teachers and school staff for their efforts teaching the nation’s children during the pandemic.
In her Christmas Day broadcast, the Queen praised the “indomitable spirit” of those who had risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the pandemic.
She told those mourning or missing loved ones “You are not alone” and expressed sympathy for people separated from their family “when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand”.
On January 9 2021, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of announcing that the Queen and Philip had received their Covid-19 vaccinations, administered by a royal doctor at the castle.
The Queen decided the information should be made public to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation.
Then on February 16, Philip was admitted to hospital as a precaution after feeling unwell.
But he ended up having heart surgery during what was his longest ever hospital stay.
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