The Queen has arrived in Norfolk after making a special pilgrimage ahead of the 70th anniversary of her father’s death as she stays in Prince Philips’s beloved Wood Farm cottage for the first time without him.
The monarch, 95, usually spends the festive period at Sandringham, but has remained at Windsor Castle since the autumn as a Covid precaution and held muted Christmas celebrations with close family last month.
In preparation for the anniversary of her father George VI in 1952, though, the Queen has made a special trip by helicopter followed by a short drive by car to Norfolk.
A source told the Mail on Sunday: ‘Everything is being put in order for the Queen’s visit.
‘We’ve been told that she will stay at Wood Farm, rather than the main house, which is nice as that always had a special place in his heart.’
The Queen has stayed in the cottage before, but it will be the first time since Philip died in April last year.
she last visited the estate in early November and would normally have spent the weekend after Halloween at Sandringham with Philip and did not want to miss the occasion.
The Queen has made a special trip to Norfolk via a short helicopter ride and drive from Windsor
The Queen pictured in the backseat of a vehicle as she arrives in Sandringham on Sunday/
While the Queen has visited the Sandringham estate since the death of her husband, it will be the first time she has stayed at the Wood Farm cottage since the death of Philip
The Queen will mark the 70th anniversary of the death of her father George VI during an extended break at the cottage
The Queen has stayed in the cottage before, but it will be the first time since Philip died, and thus very fitting that she should return now. (Above, the royal couple at the Sandringham estate in 1982)
On visits to Sandringham, the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret would cycle around the estate and join their mother and father overseeing the harvest. (Above, Elizabeth with her father, George VI, at Sandringham in 1943)
The Queen pictured leaving Windsor Castle to head to Sandringham in Norfolk on Sunday morning
However, just a week later, Buckingham Palace aides were forced to announce that ‘with great regret’ that the Queen would not be able to attend the Remembrance Sunday parade at the Cenotaph due to a ‘back sprain’.
She is expected to spend Accession Day, on February 6, with her family during an extended break at the cottage and will mark her Platinum Jubilee in private.
Four days of public celebrations will be held nationwide in June.
When Philip retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 95 – the age of the Queen today – Sandringham was the place he called home.
With typical enthusiasm, he set about improving Wood Farm as a retirement bolt-hole.
He oversaw a project to install a new kitchen and spent his days reading, writing and painting.
When Philip retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 95 – the age of the Queen today – Wood Farm cottage was the place he called home
At Sandringham, there will be plenty of fond memories of ‘we four’, as the Queen’s father used to refer to his happy nuclear family – himself, his wife (the Queen Mother), Elizabeth and her sister Margaret – all pictured, along with Philip
In 2020, on the anniversary of VE Day, the Queen gave a national broadcast recalling her father’s address to the nation 75 years earlier
The Queen, when she wasn’t on duty in London, would travel up to stay with Philip at the cottage and it was there that the two could live more like a ‘normal’ couple than at any other time of her reign.
Dispensing with liveried servants, Philip had insisted that Wood Farm staff – a page, housekeeper, chef and footman – wore ordinary clothes.
Whether by helicopter or by car, the 140-mile journey from Windsor to Sandringham is one to be endured rather than enjoyed – particularly for a 95-year-old.
So the decision to travel will not have been made lightly and must be taken as a sign that, if she is not robust, she is in reasonable health.