Family time ‘will help the Queen cope’ following Prince Phillip’s death, reveals Royal expert
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Bidding goodbye to her loyal soulmate the Duke of Edinburgh must have been heartbreaking for Her Majesty, the Queen.
But former Royal Editor Duncan Larcombe believes that the Monarch – who turns 95 today – will take immense comfort from spending time with her family and visiting the places where she shared so many happy times with Philip.
He explains: “They lived much of their life with the whole world watching, but the Sandringham Estate, Windsor Castle and Balmoral in particular provided a chance for the couple to escape and to enjoy more privacy while spending quality quiet time together.
“I think it will be especially emotional for the Queen when she arrives at Sandringham this Christmas and when she goes for a stroll across the Balmoral estate in the Highlands during her annual summer break.
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"She will be surrounded by fond memories of family barbecues, gatherings with friends and long walks," Duncan continued. "Reminiscing while there about happy times with Philip will bring her some happiness."
The Queen’s deep love for her husband of 73 years is evident in the images Buckingham Palace has shared on social media in the past week.
One particularly poignant snap shows her looking adoringly at the Duke as he presented an Enterprise Promotion Award at the Palace.
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Since the Duke’s passing, she has been comforted by those close to her. “The Queen is very used to being looked after her whole life, but at a time like this, it’s her family rallying around her rather than butlers and courtiers,” says Duncan.
And it’s the youngest members of the family – particularly her ten great grandchildren – who are giving Her Majesty hope and purpose.
“She will now refocus on being a granny and a great-granny,” says Duncan. “She has missed them a lot during the pandemic and she’ll definitely make a concerted effort to talk about Philip with them and keep his spirit alive – especially with Prince George. The royals are very keen for him to learn about what Philip stood for, how he carried himself in public and about the success of the Queen and Prince Philip’s marriage.”
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Rather than looking to her heir and oldest son, Prince Charles, to help her navigate her grief, Duncan believes it is her third child, Prince Andrew, who she’s leaning on. “The Queen is particularly close to him and it’s Andrew that she has been talking with regularly.
“She has a relationship individually with all of her children, but she is also very close to Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex,” adds Duncan. Indeed the Queen, 95, is said to adore the mother-of-two because she goes about business with “no fuss” and has a strong work ethic.
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Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson has also been accompanying the Queen on walks across Windsor Great Estate.
“The Queen has been more forgiving of Fergie’s controversies over the years, compared to Prince Philip, and will now feel even more free to spend time with her,” explains Duncan. “Besides everything else the Queen is a human being, and she will see Fergie as somebody to talk to.
“She has built up a very close bond with her dressmaker Angela Kelly, too, who is now a good friend. Angela has already been to visit her since Philip died. You imagine she might be kept at arm’s length at this time, but even family members will have contacted Angela personally.”
Prince Philip’s cousin Lady Pamela Hicks, who was one of the Queen’s bridesmaids, also forms part of the monarch’s inner circle with the pair remaining close over the years.
As for the future of the monarchy, Duncan suggests that the Queen – who hosted a retirement ceremony for one of her senior aides Earl Peel just four days after Philip’s passing – might well be contemplating some big decisions about her future sooner rather than later.
“With the Duke no longer here, it gives the Queen the opportunity to reflect on how she will pass on the crown to Prince Charles and what the next five years will bring as we edge towards that handover,” explains Duncan. “There’s speculation that her Platinum Jubilee, next year, might be a natural time for her to take more of a back seat in official royal duties. There are whisperings already.”
But, he adds, “If we look to her past, when she lost her sister Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother in a short space of time, it didn’t seem to make a jot of difference to the Queen’s outlook, workload and determination.”
Her former press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, also points out that “nobody can be totally prepared for losing a loved one” and that “the Queen will miss the Duke”. However, he adds, “Work will carry on. She will come out the other side of this, as she has with so many other difficulties she has faced. The Queen is pragmatic, and will make the best of her life. She’ll always put duty first."
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