Queen and Prince Philip could part ways after Duke celebrates birthday this spring

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Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, have been based at Windsor Castle for the most part of the pandemic. The royal couple have been married for an extraordinary 73 years and while they may have sought comfort in one another’s company during the coronavirus crisis they are also used to living apart.

Following his retirement in 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh made Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate his main base while the Queen remained at Buckingham Palace.

Philip is believed to have enjoyed a peaceful time living away from the royal bubble and the Queen is said to have approved of the move which would allow her dedicated husband a well-earned rest from serving the Crown.

This meant that in recent years the couple had become used to spending weeks and sometimes even months apart.

Prince Philip remains the Queen’s closest confidant and they are understood to have spoken on the phone every day when they were not living together.

The Queen has previously described Philip as her “strength and stay” and the couple’s lasting marriage is a symbol of stability to many Britons.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted several huge changes to the Queen’s royal schedule and prompted her to move her administrative base from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle.

However, it is hoped that the Queen will return to London this spring if it is safe enough to do so.

Prince Philip is due to celebrate his 100th birthday on June 10 and is expected to mark the extraordinary milestone with extended Royal Family members.

Just days after the Duke’s birthday the Queen’s official Trooping the Colour parade is expected to go ahead in London on June 12.

The iconic event usually involves Royal Family members gathering on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to watch the RAF flypast and is a highlight with fans as it is one of the few chances they get to see the Windsors out en masse.

Prince Philip, however, has not attended the event since his retirement and is unlikely to do so this year.

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Rather than return to London with the Queen, it seems plausible the Duke could quietly return to his retirement base at Wood Farm following his birthday in June.

If the Duke does leave Windsor after his birthday then he is likely to next be reunited with the Queen at Balmoral during the summer.

The royals holiday in Aberdeenshire every year, and managed to spend several weeks there when lockdown was lifted in August.

The Queen and Philip received the COVID-19 vaccine at Windsor last month but the royal couple’s future plans still hinge on how the pandemic progresses from here.

Their pregnant granddaughter Princess Eugenie, 30, is currently living nearby at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.

While Eugenie is due to give birth this month it may be weeks before the Queen and Philip get to meet their ninth great-grandchild as lockdown is unlikely to be lifted before March.

Their grandson Prince Harry is due back in the UK for Philip’s birthday but according to reports he will not be joined by his wife Meghan Markle and son Archie Harrison.

Philip and the Queen have not seen their great-grandson Archie since 2019.

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