Queen Elizabeth, the world’s oldest monarch, turned 95 on Wednesday, but there will be no public celebrations just days after she bade farewell to her husband of seven decades at his funeral.
Prince Philip, whom Elizabeth married in 1947, died on April 9 at the age of 99. The royals paid their final respects to the family’s patriarch at his funeral on Saturday at Windsor Castle.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the queen sat alone during the sombre service for Philip, who she had described as her “strength and stay”.
Elizabeth, who is also the world’s longest-reigning monarch, will be at the castle for her birthday, which traditionally passes off with little or no ceremony.
The queen released a message about her birthday on Wednesday.
“I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate,” the statement read.
“While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.”
This year, with the royals marking two weeks of mourning, there will be no gun salutes at the Tower of London or the capital’s Hyde park which usually occur on the queen’s birthday.
“I was at the funeral on Saturday, her Majesty was, as always, more concerned with other people than herself, and she will be on her birthday,” Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told Reuters.
“She doesn’t do ‘I’m the most important person in the room’. She does ‘I mind about the other people more than about myself’. She is an extraordinary person.”
The queen also has an official birthday, which is usually celebrated with greater pomp on the second Saturday in June.
Philip’s death has robbed Elizabeth of her closest and most trusted confidant, who had been beside her throughout her 69-year reign.
It also came as she grappled with one of the biggest crises to hit the royal family in decades – allegations of racism and neglect against it from her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan, his American wife.
Newspapers have suggested that family members would be visiting the queen over the coming days to ensure she would not be left alone while mourning her late husband.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment, saying all family matters after the funeral would be private.
Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, in Bruton Street, central London. She ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25, and surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in September, 2015.
Elizabeth is also queen of 15 former British colonies including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“I would like to send my warm wishes to Her Majesty The Queen on her 95th birthday,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter. “I am proud to serve as her prime minister.”