Queen birthday: How milestone chance to reflect after ‘extremely difficult year’

Queen Elizabeth II’s 94th birthday falls during unprecedented times. She has been keen to pare back celebrations and will spend a quiet day at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip, 98, where the couple have been based since last month.

One royal expert has shared his thoughts on the exceptional nature of the Queen’s birthday this year and has claimed the milestone offers an opportunity to reflect on the current state of the Royal Family.

Royal commentator Mr Fitzwilliams said: “This birthday marks another milestone in the life of our longest-reigning monarch.

“There will be no gun salutes, church bells rung and flying the flag on government buildings will be optional.

“The Queen is, at a time of emergency, playing down celebrations of another milestone.”

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He added: “With a select staff including her senior dresser and confidante Angela Kelly, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are in virtual self-isolation at Windsor.

“The presence of the Duke will undoubtedly be of considerable comfort to the Queen during this unprecedented period of emergency.”

While the Queen usually spends her actual birthday with family, this year they will be kept apart by social-distancing measures.

The Queen has reflected on the difficulties faced by families separated by the coronavirus crisis in two recent messages to the nation.

She gave a televised speech to Britons ahead of Easter in which she reassured her subjects “We will meet again.”

The Queen also issued her first-ever Easter statement this year which sent a message of hope to those celebrating the holy festival in private.

Mr Fitzwilliams added: “Her recent beautifully crafted broadcast about the COVID-19 emergency was heard by 24 million people.

“It helped to rally the nation’s spirit and had echoes of wartime as she talked of her broadcast during the Blitz in 1940.

“Her first recorded message at Easter evoked the religious theme of the festival beautifully.”

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On Monday, Prince Philip issued his first public message since he retired from royal life in 2017.

The Duke of Edinburgh spoke out to thank key workers and the scientific community for working tirelessly to keep Britain going amid the crisis.

Mr Fitwilliams describe Philip’s message as “tonic to the nation” and claimed the Duke’s wise advice is still hugely valued by the Queen.

He added: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s statement, which praised those in the front line as well as key workers, was a tonic to the nation.

“This truly remarkable public servant, who retired in 2017, still gives the Queen sage advice.”

The past 16 months have been tough for the Queen who had to deal with a string of royal dramas ahead of the current national crisis.

From Prince Andrew’s step back from public duty in the wake of his disastrous interview about his friendship with deceased paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal withdrawal, the Queen has had a lot on her plate.

Mr Fitzwilliams suggests the Queen’s birthday is a “unifying symbol” amid the current crisis and that it may provide a moment of reflection.

He said: “This is also an opportunity to look at the state of the monarchy today after an extremely difficult year and a quarter.

“It has come into its own as a unifying symbol in a crisis.”

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