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The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle today following a one-week birthday break on her Sandringham estate.
Her Majesty flew back in a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter with The Queen’s Helicopter Flight team from the Royal Household, after spending time away at her Norfolk retreat where she celebrated turning 96 last Thursday.
This morning, the Queen was photographed being driven away from Wood Farm – a cottage nestled in the far reaches of the country estate – in a Range Rover at around 11.30am before getting into the helicopter.
She was spotted in the back seat of the car as she was chauffeur-driven away from the five-bedroom farmhouse which was the home in retirement of her late husband Prince Philip, who died in April last year. The Queen has told how the Duke of Edinburgh ‘loved’ the cottage and part of its attraction was because the ‘sea was so close’.
The monarch arrived in Sandringham last week to spend her 96th birthday privately, and over the last few days she has been seen visiting her stables on the estate with her racing manager John Warren. There were no public engagements for her birthday, but there will be celebrations for her official birthday and Platinum Jubilee in June.
Buckingham Palace confirmed this afternoon that the Queen has arrived back at her main home. A spokesman said she is hoping to attend the State Opening of Parliament in less than two weeks’ time, on May 10.
Royal aides said confirmation is expected closer to the time or on the day. The Queen, who has experienced mobility issues in recent months, has opened Parliament on all but two occasions during her reign.
The Queen is driven away from Wood Farm on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk in a Range Rover at around 11.30am today
The Queen flies from Sandringham to Windsor in a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter by a team from The Queen’s Helicopter Flight
The exceptions were in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and then Prince Edward, when her speech was read by the Lord Chancellor.
In just over a month’s time, the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend will get under way, celebrating the nation’s longest reigning head of state’s 70 years on the throne.
Festivities include Trooping the Colour, beacon lighting, a service of thanksgiving, the Epsom Derby, a pop concert at Buckingham Palace, and a spectacular Jubilee Pageant on the streets of London.
It has not yet been confirmed how many of the high-profile events the Queen will be able to attend.
It comes as the Queen’s son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex carry out a tour of Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean to mark her Jubilee year.
Her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton also went on tour to the Caribbean last month in a trip that saw them take in Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas – again to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. However, both trips have faced criticism from campaigners seeking reparations for slavery or their nations to become republics.
Meanwhile Clarence House said yesterday that the Queen’s son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will embark on a trip across Canada next month to mark the Jubilee, spending three days in the country from May 17 to 19.
The Queen’s son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex are pictured on their tour of Saint Lucia yesterday
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet locals during a visit to Kingston in Jamaica on their Caribbean tour on March 22
While in Canada, where the monarch is still head of state, they will start in Newfoundland and Labrador and take in Ottawa and Yellowknife, 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle, covering will cover about 2,000 miles in total.
During their trip, Charles and Camilla will acknowledge the appalling treatment of indigenous people in Canada’s residential schools. Canada has been coming to terms with the discovery last year of hundreds of human remains in unmarked graves at schools where thousands of indigenous children were forcibly relocated for generations.
In a nod to the controversies of other recent royal trips, Chris Fitzgerald, deputy private secretary to Charles, said yesterday: ‘Their Royal Highnesses will take the opportunity to continue to engage with indigenous communities.’
Also yesterday, it was revealed that the Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated with a spectacular People’s Pageant involving a huge balloon of the Queen, puppet corgis and a musical tribute led by Ed Sheeran.
A parade will feature a giant bust of the monarch with a coronation ‘robe’ made up of 80 dancers. The carnival finale of the four-day celebration in June will involve more than 10,000 performers and public – and nearly 2,000 members of the Armed Forces, making it one of the largest military spectacles in modern history.
The Duke of Sussex claimed in an interview with NBC that one reason he flew to the UK two weeks ago to see the Queen – for a supposedly private meeting – was because he wanted to make sure ‘she’s protected and got the right people around her’
Prince Charles and Camilla will visit Canada next month. Charles is pictured on a trip to Wellington in Ontario in June 2017
The event will take place against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace and is set to be watched by up to a billion people across the globe. It will cost nearly £15million to stage, all of which has been raised from wealthy private donors and 25 of the UK’s biggest companies.
Organisers have revealed how the pageant on Sunday, June 5 – the final day of the four-day bank holiday weekend to mark the Queen’s historic 70 years on the throne since she succeeded her father George VI in February 1952 – is being ‘made by the people for the people’.
It will bring to life iconic moments from her reign and showcase the UK’s changing society over the decades through music, dance and the arts. Key moments include a giant oak tree flanked with maypole dancers and a huge moving wedding cake sounding out Bollywood hits.
Last week, the Royal Family was said to be ‘wearied’ by the continuing controversy surrounding Prince Harry – but determined to put on a business as usual front as they marked the Queen’s birthday on April 21.
While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were working in London, where they had to dodge questions about the embittered prince’s latest claims from broadcasters, the monarch enjoyed a low-key day at Sandringham.
The Duke of Sussex claimed one day earlier in an interview with NBC that one reason he flew to the UK two weeks ago to see his grandmother – for a supposedly private meeting – was because he wanted to make sure ‘she’s protected and got the right people around her’.
Source: Daily Mail